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If you have read women’s magazines with any regularity in the last 40 years or so, chances are that you have heard of engagement chicken. This kitschy-sounding recipe was so named because one woman who cooked the roasted chicken dish claimed that it was so good, it made her boyfriend stop dragging his feet and finally pop the question.
While we have come a long way in recent decades (with some women taking the reins and proposing to their significant others), engagement chicken is still as beloved ever. In fact, even the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, loves the recipe.
The original recipe for engagement chicken is said to have come from the offices of Glamour magazine’s fashion department in 1982. An editor shared her recipe for a lemony, buttery roasted chicken with her assistant. The assistant made the chicken recipe for her boyfriend, and when he later popped the question about a week later, the Glamour staff couldn’t help but wonder if her mouth-watering chicken dish had anything to do with his eagerness to tie her down. What’s more, the recipe made the rounds at the office, and three other staffers who made the recipe for their beaus also got engaged.
The original creator of the simple but succulent roasted chicken is believed to be none other than Ina Garten, television’s “Barefoot Contessa.” Garten told Today that she first heard about the proposal-inducing effects of her chicken recipe from a Glamour editor who told her that within 24 hours of making the chicken for your man, he would pop the question.
“Isn’t that a wonderful story?” Garten said. “How powerful is that?”
Garten said that Markle loves the roasted chicken dish, and she teasingly remarked that her marriage to Prince Harry might not have occurred without the help of her recipe.
The engagement chicken recipe has become so popular that it is even the focus of a bestselling cookbook published by Glamour magazine, “100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Fabulous Dishes to Get You Everything You Want in Life.” It’s $17.49 on Amazon.
The ingredients for this roasted chicken are as simple as it gets: A whole chicken, lemons, a handful of fresh herbs and salt and pepper. The most difficult part of this recipe will be the prep work of removing the giblets, but if you are so inclined, you can buy a pre-prepped whole chicken from your butcher or meat counter.
Garnished with lemons and fresh herbs, this chicken is moist and fresh, with a flaky outer crust that is the result of slow, careful roasting. Paired with a dark green salad (you could try Garten’s recipe for arugla salad with radicchio and parmesan), this dinner is as classic, wholesome and all-American as it gets.
You can also try this slight variation from Anthony Bourdain. His roasted chicken recipe uses chicken stock and dry white wine to make the meat extra juicy, along with butter and onion for extra flavor.
Bourdain never made any promises that his recipe would get someone to propose, but who needs a ring when you have chicken this good?