Tip:Salting seasons the bird, of course, but if you can do it a day, or even a few hours, ahead, you'll get more flavorful meat and crisper skin.
Finely grate the zest from the lemons. In a food processor or mini chopper, combine the zest with the 2 Tbs. salt, the rosemary, and black pepper. Pulse several times to combine.
Sprinle each chicken with this salt mixture both inside and outside the cavity and between the skin and the breast meat (use your fingers to gently open up a pocket between the two). Cut 1 of the lemons in half and stuff a half in the cavity of each bird. Reserve the remaining lemon for another use. Set the chickens on a wire rack atop a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
About 30 minutes before you're ready to roast the chickens, set an oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 425°F. Take the chickens out of the refrigerator and brush the butter uniformly over the skin. Sprinkle each chicken with 1/2 tsp. salt. Set each chicken, breast side up, on 1 or 2 racks (preferably a nonadjustable V-rack) in a large roasting pan. Let the chickens rest at room temperature while the oven heats.
Roast the chickens until the breasts are nicely browned and crisp, about 40 minutes. Gently flip each chicken (I like using tongs to clutch the inside ofthe cavity and the side of the bird) and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 20 minutes more. Let rest for 5 minutes before carving one of the chickens into pieces.
Find more recipes like this one in 150 Things to Make With Roast Chicken, by Fine Cooking contributing editor Tony Rosenfeld. Get two meals in one, with 50 ideas for roasting the bird, plus recipes for casseroles, soups, stews, wraps, salads and more using the leftovers.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on eight servings, Calories
35, Fat Calories
310, Saturated Fat
59, Monounsaturated Fat
0, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips