The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, by Judy Rodgers (Norton).
The bird is seasoned for several days, a step that can be cut down to overnight for pasture-raised chicken. The precisely described cooking times and visual cues are very useful, and an accompanying bread salad, dressed with drippings, makes any meal a holiday.
Bistro Cooking at Home, by Gordon Hamersley and Joanne McAllister Smart (Broadway Books).
A recipe that helped make the reputation of Hamersley’s Bistro, in Boston: chicken coated with a mustard-garlic-herb marinade, roasted, and run under the broiler at the last minute, then topped with lemon slices and served with roasted garlic cloves.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan (Knopf).
My default method: stick two smallish lemons, well punctured, into the cavity, then roast—turning the chicken once—for about 90 minutes. An amazingly simple and good recipe. Seasoning is always more effective from the inside out.
The Chinese Chicken Cookbook, by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo (Simon & Schuster).
Chicken baked in salt, an ancient method that involves encasing the bird in hot salt. The results of what seems like a school project always delight cooks: salty and papery skin but very moist, not overly salty meat.
Roasting, by Barbara Kafka (William Morrow).
The recipe that launched a best-selling book and brought roast chicken into the supersonic age: roast at the highest heat your oven can manage, smoke alarms be damned, and get a damn-near-perfect bird in less than an hour.