This recipe packed with flavor and it's a huge crowd pleaser. It's easy enough to prepare for a weeknight meal, and impressive enough for a weekend dinner party.
Preheat the oven to 500° F. Place a paper towel on a plate and set it aside.
With the heat off, add the hard apple cider to the pan and let it sit for a few minutes. Then turn the heat to medium-low and add the apple, onion and garlic. Crumble the bacon and add it to the pan too. Let it simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Then add the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Lightly drizzle a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan with olive oil. Remove the insides of the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season the inside and outside of the chicken with salt and pepper and truss it. (Here's how.) Then place it breast side up in a in the baking pan and drizzle with olive oil.
Place the pan in the preheated 500° F oven and roast until the chicken is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and reduce the heat to 350° F.
Arrange the apple mixture around the sides of the skillet, so there's space enough for the chicken in the center. Very carefully, use tongs, heat resistant cooking gloves or your hands, to flip the chicken over so it's now breast side down, in the center of the skillet, surrounded by the apple mixture. Place the skillet in the 350° F oven and continue to roast until the internal temperature is 155 degrees F -- this should take about 1 hour. The final internal temperature will be about 165 degrees, as the chicken will continue to cook for several minutes outside of the oven. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. You'll also know it's done when the juices run clear and the legs should move easily when it's done. Baste the chicken with the cider-butter mixture every 15 minutes or so.
Wait at least 15 minutes before carving, to allow the juices to settle
Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.) Serve!
I highly recommend buying an organic chicken, as they typically have less fat and more flavor.