Herb and Lemon Roast Chicken

Herb and Lemon Roast Chicken

2 whole chickens-3 1/2 to 4 pounds each
2 lemons
2 cups packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
3 cloves garlic — peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt-plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper-plus more to taste
14 1/2 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth — defatted
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Position oven rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350ºF. Remove giblets. Place hearts, necks and gizzards in roasting pan and reserve livers for another use. With a sharp knife, remove excess fat. Dry insides with a paper towel. With your fingers, loosen skin over breasts and thighs to make pockets, being careful not to tear the skin.

Zest lemons with a grater before cutting them in half. In a food processor or blender, combine lemon zest, parsley, thyme, rosemary, garlic, oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; process until finely chopped. Set aside 1/4 cup herb mixture for gravy. Spread 1/4 cup herb mixture in the bottom of a roasting pan.

Place chickens in pan, at least 1 inch apart. Rub 1 tablespoon herb mixture into each cavity and spread remaining mixture under skin. Place 2 lemon halves in each chicken cavity. Tuck wings back and tie legs.

Roast chickens for 20 minutes. Drizzle with 1/4 cup chicken broth and roast for 40 minutes more, basting with pan drippings every 20 minutes. Tent chickens with aluminum foil and continue roasting for 30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 180ºF and the cavity juices run clear.

Transfer chickens to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm; leave giblets in pan. Pour pan juices into a bowl and chill in freezer for 10 minutes to bring fat to the surface.

Meanwhile, add remaining chicken broth and wine to roasting pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits adhering to the pan. Add any juices accumulated on chicken platter. Skim off fat from chilled pan juices. Add juices to roasting pan and return to a boil. Strain juices through a fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

In a small bowl, blend water and cornstarch; whisk into simmering gravy. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in reserved herb mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Carve chickens, discarding skin. Serve with gravy.

Makes 8 servings.

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