Stuffed Boned Chicken en Croûte

You can really only do this if you are prepared to bone a chicken or can find a butcher who will bone one for you – in the country they often will and do not charge anything and good London butchers usually will if they like you! It is a very pretty, impressive dinner party dish, fairly easy, but it has to be done in two stages to start in time or do the first part well ahead to make it easier later when you are busy.

Ingredients

  • 1 boned chicken
  • ¼ lb mushrooms (110 g)
  • tarragon (fresh if possible)
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • salt, pepper
  • 8–12 oz packet of bought puff pastry or short pastry (225–350 g)
  • string and skewers
  • juice of 1 lemon for the gravy
  • little white wine
  • 1 egg yolk

Method

Heat oven to Gas 5–6 (375°–400°F/190°–200°C). The butcher will probably give you a shapeless mass of chicken, though occasionally it is done perfectly and is still in chicken shape. Lay it out flat and rub the inside with the crushed garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In the middle put a pile of sliced mushrooms and chopped tarragon. Now it is like tying up a difficult parcel. Wrap the chicken round the mushrooms and tie it up with string as neatly as possible with no mushrooms popping out – it does not matter how much string or how many skewers you use because they all come off later. Put the bundle, rubbed with olive oil, into a roasting pan in the oven for ¾ hour. Take it out and let it get cold (save the pan juices to use as a sauce or gravy later). Remove the string and skewers when it is cold. About half an hour before your meal, heat oven to Gas 7 (425°F/220°C). Roll out the pastry and wrap it round the lump of chicken making sure the joins are underneath. If you have time and artistic inspiration use the left-over pastry to make little cut out leaves and flowers or any kind of patterns you like. Brush with egg yolk and put the parcel in the oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry looks cooked and golden.

To Serve

Cut in slices with a very sharp knife. Any nice fresh vegetables will go with this. For the gravy add the juice of ½ a lemon and a little white wine to the pan juices and re-heat, having taken off any excess fat.

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