For the brine:
4 tablespoons kosher salt
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 stems rosemary, cut into 2-inch lengths
A few bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
2 1/2 quarts water
2 halved small spring chickens (2 chickens, 3-3 1/2-pound birds, each halved)
1 sack pearl onions or 12 small cippolini onions
2 pounds baby potatoes, big ones halved, others left whole
1 bulb garlic, cloves crushed and skinned
2 lemons, 1 sliced, 1 cut into quarters, divided
1 cup buttery, green Cerignola olives or other good-quality green olives
A few fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
The day before the meal, combine the brine ingredients in a large plastic bag. Add the chickens and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 500°F.
Boil water in a medium size pot and cook the onions for 3-4 minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath. Squish the onions away from their skins, leaving them whole. Place the onions in a shallow roasting dish or casserole. Add the potatoes, garlic, lemon slices, olives, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. Drizzle with EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Place a cooling rack over baking dish. Remove the chicken from brine and pat dry. Coat the skin with EVOO and season with pepper. Arrange the chicken over the top of the potatoes and place in the oven. Roast for 35 minutes at 500ºF, then lower the heat to 300ºF and roast for about 20-30 minutes more, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Turn off the oven and let chickens rest for 10 minutes. Remove and serve the half chickens with a lemon quarter to squeeze over top and the potatoes, garlic and olives alongside.