Dish of the Week: Engagement Chicken

This is one chicken worth falling for.
This is one chicken worth falling for.

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re sharing a classic dish that is worth falling for: Engagement Chicken.

They say the way to the heart is through the stomach, and if that’s true, everyone will want to add this recipe to his or her repertoire. Engagement Chicken is a simple dish of roast chicken flavored with lemon and herbs, and the story behind it claims the chicken is so good, it may just end in a proposal.

The recipe was developed in 1982 by Glamour magazine editor Kim Bonnell, who then shared the recipe with her assistant. Soon after the assistant made the recipe for her boyfriend, they got engaged. The recipe made its rounds in the office, leading to three more engagements. Fast-forward to 2004, when Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive heard the tales and ran the recipe in the magazine, dubbing it “Engagement Chicken.”

Even Howard Stern’s then girlfriend, Beth Ostrosky, got in the mix. She made the chicken, and the notoriously anti-marriage shock jock eventually proposed (two years later, but they are together to this day).

Whether you’re looking for a love or not (or think this entire story is bogus and incredibly lame), you’ll fall in love with how easy it is to perfect this dish. The chicken is stuffed with lemon, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and finished with fresh herbs, including rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley.

Engagement Chicken

Ingredients serves 2 to 4
1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 3 whole lemons — including 1 sliced for garnish
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 bunch fl at-leaf parsley)


Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fitted with a rack and pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.

Prick 2 whole lemons three times each in three different places with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity. Chicken cavity size may vary, so if one lemon is partly sticking out, that's fine. (Tip: If the lemons are stiff, roll them on the countertop with your palm before pricking to get the juices flowing.)

Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast-side up. Insert a meat thermometer in the thigh, and return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. Continue roasting if necessary. Keep in mind that cooking times in different ovens vary; roasting a chicken at 350°F takes approximately 18-20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. And here's the secret: Pour the juices from the roasting pan on top of the sliced chicken — this is the "marry me juice." Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

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