This is inspired by a similar recipe by Jamie Oliver that I came across when looking for new things to do with a whole chicken. This is a really lovely way of cooking your bird as the meat gently roasts in its own juices because of its doughy confines so comes out incredibly tender and infused with the mushroom and garlic flavours. You can make this simply with chestnut mushrooms, or try upping the stakes by using the wild mushrooms available at the moment and using game such as partridge or guinea fowl. Wonderfully, this technique works with all birds, you may just need to adjust the cooking time according to the weight of your bird. You need to be quite precise, 10 minutes per 250g is a good guide and always 30 minutes resting time.
25g dried porcini
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
200g chestnut mushrooms or a mix of wild mushrooms such as girolles or pied de mouton, very finely chopped
A squeeze of lemon
A handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
75g softened butter
2 kg chicken
1.75 kg plain flour
Boil a kettle and pour over the porcini, then put to one side to soak for 10 minutes.
Warm the olive oil in your largest frying pan over a medium heat and add the garlic. Cook gently for a minute, then add the bay leaves and thyme, followed by the mushrooms. Cook, stirring regularly until the mushrooms are softened and beginning to colour, about 3 minutes.
Take off the heat for a moment. Scoop the porcini out their liquid (reserve) and finely chop. Return the mushrooms to a high heat and add the porcini and 3 tablespoons of cooking liquid. Cook briskly until the liquid evaporates, then take off the heat again, discard the bay and add a small squeeze of lemon and stir in the parsley. Spread out on a plate to cool.
While your mushrooms cool, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Place the flour in a large bowl and slowly pour in approx 750ml -1l water, incorporating it with your hands, then kneading for a moment until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Put to one side for a moment.
Once cool, have a taste of the mushrooms and season to your liking. Transfer to a bowl and mash together with the softened butter. Approaching from the back of the chicken, gently push your hand under the skin of the bird, separating the skin from the meat around the breast and the legs. Push the mushroom butter under the skin (this bit can get messy!), then tie the legs together securely with string.
Cut off a third of the dough and roll to about 25cm long. Sit the bird on top of it, then roll out the remaining bit to about 40cm and drape over the chicken. Pinch the edges together to firmly seal, then place in the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove and leave to rest for 30 minutes before cracking open the dough. Discard the dough and string, check that the chicken is cooked through, then carve up and serve. Delicious with mashed potatoes.