1. Grate rind from lemons to measure 2 tablespoons. Reserve lemons. Combine 5 teaspoons rind, 3/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 2 minced garlic cloves in a small bowl.
2. Remove and discard chicken giblets and neck. Loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers and gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub rind mixture under loosened skin over flesh. Tuck wing tips under chicken. Place chicken in a shallow dish; refrigerate, uncovered, 4 hours or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 425°.
4. Quarter reserved lemons. Place lemon quarters and 6 crushed garlic cloves into chicken cavity; tie ends of legs together with cord. Place chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375° (do not remove chicken from oven). Bake 40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty portion of thigh registers 165°. Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes.
5. Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until tender; drain. Combine potatoes, 1 teaspoon rind, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 minced garlic cloves, butter, and thyme. Discard chicken skin; carve.
Wine note: With all the bright lemon woven through this comfort dish, you need a wine with a great squeeze of citrus at its core. Look no further than Columbia Crest's 2009 Two Vine Pinot Grigio (Washington, $8). Lemon expands to pink grapefruit and peach, with a refreshing, zesty finish--all of which make the citrus and thyme on the chicken and potatoes pop. --Sara Schneider