4-lb. whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbs. vegetable oil
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1/8 tsp. cayenneMethod
Position a rack in the upper third of oven and heat the oven to 400°f. set the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down. use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. flip the chicken over and press down on the breasts with the heels of your hands to flatten it a little. rub 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper all over the chicken and set it breast side up in a 9×13-inch baking dish (the chicken should fit snugly).
In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, oil, vinegar, thyme, and cayenne with 1 tsp. salt. pour the mixture evenly over the chicken. sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt and several grinds of black pepper. roast the chicken, basting or brushing it occasionally with the pan juices, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh registers 170° to 175°f, 45 to 50 minutes. (keep an eye on the pan juices; if they seem to be burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the bottom of the pan.)
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, cut it into pieces, drizzle it generously with the pan juices, and serve immediately.