Ever wondered why grocery store rotisserie chickens are so cheap? Here's your answer:
[M]uch like hunters who strive to use every part of the animal, grocery stores attempt to sell every modicum of fresh food they stock. Produce past its prime is chopped up for the salad bar; meat that's overdue for sale is cooked up and sold hot. Some mega-grocers like Costco have dedicated rotisserie chicken programs, but employees report that standard supermarkets routinely pop unsold chickens from the butcher into the ol' rotisserie oven.
As an aside, the author says she tried to roast a chicken at home, and it came out alright: "I took it home, rubbed it in butter and herbs, shoved a lemon half up its butt, and roasted it low and slow for the majority of the day. It turned out okay."
Low and slow? There's her problem. Low and slow is appropriate for tough cuts. But chickens aren't a tough cut, and if you're cooking at home—and as long as they're in the 3 to 4 pound range—they do best with high heat.
Want to roast a chicken? Here's what you should do. Place a roasting pan or large cast iron skillet in your oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Remove the giblets and anything inside. Dry it, remove the wings (if you want, to use for stock), and cover with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put a lemon inside with half a garlic bulb and some rosemary stalks.
Once the oven and the pan are hot, place the chicken breast side up and cook for 50 minutes. Because the chicken is hitting a hot pan, it will cook more evenly—the legs and thighs don't have to warm up.
Remove, let sit for 15 minutes, and care. It'll be juicy, flavorful, and much better than anything you get from the supermarket.