This playful roast chicken recipe features flowerlike clusters of maitake mushrooms (a.k.a. hen of the woods). Baguette slices are added to the bottom of the pan with a bit of cream the last 20 minutes or so of roasting, and they soak up all those delicious juices, almost like a deconstructed stuffing for serving alongside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken’s backbone to remove it. Turn the chicken skin-side up and press down between the breasts to break the breast bone. Thoroughly dry chicken with paper towels. Season skin and body cavity generously with salt, and set aside.
Using your hands, tear the mushrooms into halves and quarters, and add them to the roasting pan. Add the shallots, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the vermouth, olive oil, and butter.
Place the chicken on rack, and set it over the mushrooms and shallots. Roast 40 minutes.
Remove the chicken on the rack, and it set aside on a baking sheet. Pour the cream into the roasting pan, and gently stir. Nestle the bread in the cream mixture, ensuring it touches the bottom of the pan, and add the thyme sprigs. Return the chicken to the pan.
Roast until the chicken is done and an instant thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg registers 175°F, about 20 minutes more. (The bread and mushrooms should be crispy.)
Remove the chicken from pan, allowing any drippings to fall into the pan. Carve the chicken as desired, serve with the mushrooms and toast, and garnish with the parsley.
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