I just made a classic roast chicken and the recipe called for stuffing a lemon, thyme, and onion inside the cavity of the chicken. Why even bother stuffing the cavity with anything? What does it accomplish?
Lemon, herbs, onions, and garlic too are all aromatics that infuse into the chicken as it cooks giving it a lovely flavor. It doesn't absorb the flavors enough to call it a lemon chicken, but gives the chicken some flavor depth and acts as an enhancement. Stuffing the chicken helps these flavors to infuse better into the meat than spreading them around. Salt and pepper,too, should go in the cavity.
Putting ingredients inside as well as on the surface helps spread the flavors throughout the meat. They're also very moist so it helps the bird stay juicier. Plus, it adds to the aroma which, believe it or not, affects the flavor. All in all, it's an easy way to make your chicken more delicious!
Hopefully, you pierced the lemon before stuffing it into the bird...
I have an old Italian recipe that calls for one or two (depending on sizes of lemons and the bird) lemons, placing them into the cavity and sewing up the opening before roasting.
Prior to going in, then lemons are rolled to loosen the skin and pierced several times with a skewer.
For the first part of the roasting, the bird is placed on it's breast (to let the juices flow into the meat), and then turned up the right way to let the breast crisp up and to even the cooking.
This method doesn't require basting of any kind - the lemon juices both moisten and infuse flavour into the meat.
Sunday last I made a roast chicken. Seasoned the cavity with salt and pepper, cut lemon halves, a head of garlic cut in half, huge bunch of rosemary. Also brushed melted butter on the outside and put salt and pepper again. It was amazing! The meat was so juicy and tender and I (and my guest) could really taste the garlic, lemon and rosemary in the meat as well -- which I am perplexed at how the herbs in the cavity could season the meat. Well, don't care -- it was delicious!