1 chicken (simple enough! make sure all those yucky little inside bits are removed first. I make Stephen do it.)
2-3 stalks of celery
2 medium yellow onions or one VERY large onion
4-6 peeled garlic cloves
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
half a lemon
kosher salt (or a coarse salt)
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Season the breast side of the chicken generously with kosher salt and pepper. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in your Dutch oven on medium high heat. Swirl it around a bit to make sure the bottom is coated. When the oil is heated, but not smoking, place the chicken, breast side down, in the Dutch oven. It should sizzle as it hits the oil. Let brown for a few minutes on that side, and salt and pepper the bottom generously too (the side now facing UP). While browning, chop onion and celery into about 1/2-1 inch chunks. Big, coarse chunks. Carefully check the chicken. If the breast side has browned a bit, turn it over. (I find that sticking a wooden spoon into the cavity works best) Dump onions, celery, and garlic into the Dutch oven around the chicken.
Put the lemon half inside the chicken. Let the chicken and veggies brown for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. If the bottom of the chicken is getting too brown (aka, burning) push some veggies under it. Once the veggies are softened a bit, and the bottom of the chicken is well-browned, add the sprigs of thyme, and place a sheet of foil over the top. Place the lid on top of that, and crumple the sides of the foil around the lid, sealing that gap as much as possible. Put the whole thing in the oven, and let cook for 80-110 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. (90-100 minutes usually does it for me!)
Remove from the oven and the Dutch oven and let sit, covered, for 20 minutes.
While the chicken is resting, pour all the juices and solids left in the Dutch oven through a strainer into a bowl (or large glass measuring cup) Squish all the solids to squeeze every last bit of juice out, especially that lemon!
Best Gravy Ever
2 Tb butter
2 Tb flour
juices from chicken
salt and pepper
Melt butter in a small pot/saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour, and stir constantly until it darkens a bit and smells toasty. Gradually pour in juices, whisking furiously!! It will thicken up fast, and you don't want chunks. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I add a little bit more lemon too! (you can use this same method on any juices from any meat. If you don't have enough, add some chicken or beef broth)