- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 free-range chicken (about 1.5 kg)
- 500 g small whole brown or portobellini
- mushrooms (or a mix of both)
- olive oil, to moisten
- sprigs of fresh thyme
- 500 g French shallots or baby onions, peeled
- 3–4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- mix of salad leaves, for serving
- crusty bread, for serving
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Season the chicken inside and out. Season the cleaned mushrooms and moisten with oil.
Place as many mushrooms as you can, together with some of the thyme, inside the chicken cavity. Season the shallots and moisten with oil.
Place the chicken in the centre of a large sheet of oiled greaseproof paper. Tuck the remaining mushrooms, the shallots, garlic and some thyme underneath the chicken.
Moisten the skin of the chicken with olive oil. Wrap up in the paper and roast for 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until browned and very tender.
Serve with the roast mushrooms and shallots, topped with pan juices and with a green salad. Don’t forget bread to mop up the juices.
The method of cooking a chicken results in moist tender meat. Get it together in the morning, or even the night before, so that it’s quick to pop into the oven. While the oven’s heating, allow the chicken parcel to come to room temperature.
Leftovers? Cook any leftover mushrooms and shallots, together with the remaining chicken backbone, with a cup of rice and 2 cups of chicken stock. Add any leftover shredded chicken, then turn into an oiled baking dish, strew with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan and drizzle with oil.Bake in a medium-hot oven until golden.
Or, for the ultimate midnight snack, smear a split roll with garlic butter. Sandwich with chicken, mushrooms and shallots, wrap up in buttered paper and bake at 190°C for 10 minutes, or until hot and crusty.