Remove giblets from chicken and reserve for other uses. Pull off and discard lumps of fat. Rinse bird well inside and out; pat dry.
Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper. If desired, fold wing tips under first joint. Set bird breast up on a V-shaped rack in an 11- by 17-inch pan.
Roast in a 425° regular or convection oven until a thermometer inserted through thickest part of breast to bone reaches 170°, or 180° through thickest part of thigh at joint, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours. If drippings start to smoke, tilt pan, skim fat and discard; then add about 1/4 cup water.
Insert a carving fork into body cavity, piercing carcass; lift bird and tilt to drain juices into pan. Set chicken on a rimmed platter and let rest in a warm place about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, skim and discard fat from pan. Stir juices to release browned bits and pour through a fine strainer, if desired, into a small bowl. Carve chicken and serve with juices. Add salt and pepper to taste.