You don’t often see whole chicken that’s been stuffed like this. I think that’s a real shame because it adds such beautiful flavour and the natural juices from the chicken will give you the most gorgeous stuffing.
Preheat your oven to 240°C/475°F/gas 9. Heat a good lug of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add your onion and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until soft, but not coloured. Add the mushrooms with the leaves from a few of your thyme sprigs. Turn the heat up to high and fry for 5 to 10 minutes until the mushrooms go slightly crispy. Remove from the heat, grate in the zest of the lemon and season well. Tip into a bowl and leave to one side to cool.
Once the mixture has cooled, use clean hands to mix in the pine nuts and breadcrumbs, then add the egg. Carefully, push your fingers between the meat and skin on the top of the chicken then gently create a pocket for the stuffing. Push a quarter of the stuffing into this pocket and roll the remaining mixture into balls and pop to one side. Cut your zested lemon in half and place in the chicken cavity with the remaining thyme sprigs. Pop your chicken in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place in the preheated oven and turn the heat down to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Cook for 40 minutes, then add your mushroom stuffing balls to the tray. Return to the oven and cook for a further 35 minutes until gorgeous and golden. To check your chicken is cooked, stick a skewer into the fattest part of the thigh – if the juices run clear, your chicken is done. Leave to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, covered loosely with tin foil, then serve with fluffy roast potatoes and seasonal greens.