I tend to make chicken a few times a week, much to the chagrin of my husband and teenage son. Although they appreciate my home cooking, they are never really floored by fowl. I’ve heard grumblings of “Chicken again?” — especially from my husband, who would prefer to eat red meat and potatoes every night.
Maybe, however, the reaction isn’t because of the protein I’m serving but because of the preparation. Supposedly, there is a chicken recipe SO yummy that instead of soliciting complaints, it actually causes people to propose.
I am talking about “engagement chicken.”
In an interview with iHeartMedia’s River Cafe Table 4 podcast, British actress Emily Blunt, who has been married to American actor John Krasinski since 2010, said, “The roast chicken I love is Ina Garten’s roast chicken. It’s called her ‘engagement chicken.’ When people make it for people, they get engaged or something.”
After letting viewers in on the recipe’s key ingredients, Blunt explained, “Oh my God, it’s divine. It’s really sticky and yummy.” She credited the chicken with helping her to seal the deal with Krasinski. “That’s it,” Blunt said, laughing, “(the chicken is) all it took!”
Blunt isn’t the only one to say that Garten’s famous chicken recipe caused their beloved to get down on one knee. Meghan Markle, the wife of Prince Harry, is said to have made the dish to charm her Prince Charming. On a 2018 episode of Sunday Today with Willie Geist, Garten confirmed to Geist that she had heard the rumor that Markle had cooked the chicken around the time Harry proposed. When Geist inferred that Garten’s recipe was responsible for the royal wedding, she laughed and did not deny that it was quite possible.
Other big believers in the power of the poultry were a group of staffers at Glamour magazine. In the ’80s, fashion editor Kim Bonnell developed a roast chicken recipe after a trip to Italy. She gave the recipe to a coworker.
Within weeks of making the chicken for her boyfriend, he proposed. Soon word spread of the meal with magical powers. Several other staffers were making chicken and then making wedding plans. In 2003, the infamous recipe was finally printed in the magazine and given the title of “engagement chicken” (a slightly different version than Garten’s.) It was so popular, the recipe became the cornerstone of a 2011 cookbook, 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Fabulous Dishes to Get You Everything You Want in Life.
As of 2013, 70 couples had said that making the chicken led to a proposal from their significant other.
I have been married for over 30 years and wondered, Is it possible the dish is so delish that my husband might consider re-proposing to me all over again? Since it’s relatively simple, I decided to give it a try a few nights ago. Unfortunately, my beloved did not ask me to marry him all over again. But he did compliment the chef and ask for seconds!
The many success stories credited to “engagement chicken” gives credence to the adage that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. So whether you are looking to get engaged or just interested in an easy, romantic Valentine’s Day meal, here is Garten’s recipe.
Engagement Roast Chicken
Courtesy Ina Garten; adapted from Food Network)
1 (4- to 5-pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole head garlic, cut in half crosswise
Good olive oil
2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 of the quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons.
Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11-by-14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper.
Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan. Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between the left and thigh.
Remove chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan. Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken.
Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce.