Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity and rinse the chicken under cold water, inside and out. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Season the body and cavity of the chicken generously with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, lemon juice and chopped herbs. Rub the herbed butter all over the chicken. Put the lemon halves, onion, garlic and whole herbs inside the bird. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine to help hold its shape.
Place the chicken, breast side down, on a V-rack in a roasting pan. Cooking the chicken on a rack helps make its skin crisp and keeps it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Pour water in the roasting pan to prevent the fat drippings from burning and smoking.
Roast the chicken for about 20 minutes, then carefully turn the bird over breast side up. It is best to take the pan out of the oven, close the oven door to maintain the temperature, and rotate the chicken on the counter. Baste the chicken all over with the pan drippings. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees F and return the pan to the oven. Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees to 170 degrees F, count on this taking about 2 hours. Remove the chicken to a platter and let stand for 15 minutes so the juices settle back into the meat before carving.
Meanwhile, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a gravy separator or measuring cup to let the fat rise to the top. Skim and discard the fat then return the pan juices back in the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium heat. Add the sherry and deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with chicken.
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