Makes 4 servings. Difficulty
3/4 cup hot water 3/4 oz. dried mushrooms (you can get a wild mushroom mix which works perfectly for this dish) 1 Tablespoon olive oil 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter 2 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 large garlic clove, minced 1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs (parsley, chives, and sage) 1 free-range chicken
For the gravy: Reserved soaking liquid from the mushrooms 1 teaspoon arrowroot 1 Tablespoon cognac 1 Tablespoon water Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour the hot water into a medium bowl and add the dried mushrooms. Let the mushrooms soak for 1 hour. Lift the mushrooms out of the soaking liquid and press them between your palms (hands held over the bowl) to release the excess water. Reserve the soaking liquid for the gravy. Cut the mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces.
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the fresh and hydrated mushrooms to the skillet and saute for 3-4 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add the garlic and herbs and saute for 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
Insert your fingers between the skin and flesh at the neck opening of the chicken and gently push your hand inside to loosen the skin, not only around the breast but around the thighs and legs too.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Stuff the chickens by inserting the filling between the skin and the flesh, pushing it evenly with your fingers throughout the chicken. Season the outside of the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings behind the back.
To prevent the chickens from sticking to the pan place a small piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the chicken on top of the parchment paper, back side down. Roast the chicken for 1 hour, basting every 30 minutes with the accumulated pan juices. The chicken is done when an instant thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 180°F.
Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and transfer to a platter or carving board. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the gravy. Scrape off any drippings that may be clinging to the parchment paper. Skim off as much fat as possible from the pan drippings. Pour the mushroom soaking liquid, being careful to leave behind any sediment from the mushrooms. Set the pan over 2 burners over medium high heat. Bring to a boil scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan as it boils. Strain the liquid into a small saucepan. In a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot, cognac and water. Add the mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly until the gravy thickens slightly. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.