“Cooking a whole chicken in a pastry crust will give you the most incredible flavour and beautifully tender results. It also looks brilliantly bonkers, so it makes the most fantastic centrepiece for a meal to impress your friends and family. Simply crack off and discard the crust, revealing that super-juicy bird hidden inside. Heaven. ”
In a small bowl, just cover the porcini with boiling water and leave to rehydrate for 10 minutes while you peel and finely slice the garlic and tear up the wild mushrooms. Place both in a frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Strip in the thyme leaves and fry it all for 5 to 8 minutes, or until golden, stirring occasionally. Roughly chop the porcini and add to the pan, then pour in their soaking liquor (discarding just the last gritty bit).
Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until thickened and reduced, then season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Remove the chicken from the fridge and let it come up to room temperature.
Place the flour in a bowl, then gradually pour in 1.2 litres of ice-cold water, stirring continuously until combined. Use your hands to bring it together into a soft, elastic dough, then cover with a damp tea towel and put aside.
Transfer the mushroom mixture to a board with the top leafy half of the parsley, add a few drops of truffle oil, then roughly chop together. Scrape into a bowl, then squidge and mix in the butter.
Carefully lift up and push your fingers or a spoon between the chicken breast and skin on both sides of the bird to create pockets for your flavoured butter – be careful not to rip the skin.
Rub most of the butter on to the breast meat, then replace the skin and massage the remaining butter all over. Tie the legs together with string.
Roll out one third of the dough into a rectangle 1cm thick and just slightly bigger than the chicken, then sit the chicken on top. Roll out the remainder of the dough to 1cm thick and big enough to cover the chicken. Place the dough over the top, pressing the edges together to create a sealed parcel.
Place in a large roasting tray and cook in the oven for 1 hour 40 minutes – be exact with your timings, as you won’t be able to check whether it’s cooked until you carve the crust open.
Remove to a board to rest for 30 minutes, then break open the crust with a knife and discard (you don’t eat the crust). Check that the chicken is cooked through, then carve it up and serve. Perfect with creamy mash and steamed seasonal greens.