Engagement Chicken

March 20: National Proposal Day

Is the way to a prince’s heart through his stomach? Many have speculated that American actress Meghan Markle’s roast chicken dinner impressed Prince Harry of Wales so much that he proposed to her!

Other women have claimed that when they cooked a heartwarming lemony-herbed roast chicken for their boyfriends, they finally proposed, too. The “magical” recipe, which originated from Glamour magazine in the early 2000s, earned a reputation for its power it has over guys to “pop the question” and thus has been dubbed “engagement chicken”!

Believe the sexist tale or not, engagement chicken is still a tasty comfort food that is relatively simple to make for loved ones. Whether for a prince, significant other, family or friends, roast chicken is perfect to cook any day but especially on National Proposal Day.

Recipe I

This is the version we adapted by Chef Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, which Meghan Markle alluded to in her BBC interview, stating that she and Prince Harry cooked it together for dinner the night he proposed to her.

Ingredients

  • 1 (5-6 pound) whole roasting chicken
  • salt and pepper
  • bunch of fresh thyme
  • 2 lemons (one cut in half, another cut in wedges)
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thick
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour

Directions

Remove the giblets from the chicken and rinse inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper inside of the chicken. Stuff it with half a bunch of thyme. Place two halves of a lemon and garlic inside of the chicken.

Put on a roasting pan. Rub the skin of the chicken with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Tie the chicken legs with cooking twine. Secure the wing tips to the chicken with toothpicks. Place in a large roasting pan. Put onion and lemon wedges around it.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 1½ hours until juices run clear. Baste occasionally. Remove from the oven and cover with foil while making the gravy.

Remove twine and toothpicks. Discard the garlic, thyme stems, fat and lemon halves and wedges (and seeds) from the roasting pan, reserving the onions and two tablespoons of juices. Place the onions and juices into a saucepan with the chicken stock. Boil on high heat for about five minutes until reduced. Then stir in the flour and boil for a few more minutes until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Strain the gravy into a boat. Serve hot with carved chicken pieces.

Recipe II

This is the version we adapted that originated from Glamour magazine and became an urban legend.

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-5pound) whole roasting chicken
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
  • 2-3 additional lemons
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • sprigs of fresh herbs to garnish (rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the giblets from the chicken and rinse inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub the lemon juice inside and outside. Season the inside with half the salt and pepper. Prick the lemons with the tines of a fork and insert inside the cavity of the chicken. Tie the legs with cooking twine.

Secure the wing tips to the chicken with toothpicks. Season the outside with the remaining salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan lined with foil breast side down. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the chicken over breast side up and insert a meat thermometer in the thigh. Bake for another 1½ hours or more in 15-minute increments and until the thermometer reaches 180 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and baste with the pan juices. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and transfer to a platter. Garnish with herbs. Serve hot with sides of roast vegetables.

Notes

  • The pan drippings from the engagement chicken used to baste and flavor this tender and tasty dish is called the “marry me juice”, according to Glamour magazine.
  • We garnish the engagement chicken with sprigs of herbs, roast vegetables (like carrots and potatoes) and/or extra lemon wedges. It makes for a pretty presentation especially for special occasions.
  • We like to serve engagement chicken to the couples we are sponsoring at our church through a marriage preparation ministry program. The dish is well liked by many, even by those who are picky eaters. Our couples enjoy hearing about the recipe’s reputation as well, and is a fun icebreaker and conversation starter for our meetings.

 

Moroccan Roast Chicken 

with Saffron and Rose Water

Morrocan Chicken

September:
National Chicken Month

At one of Islander’s culinary club monthly meetings, members were challenged to bring a dish made with edible flowers or floral essence. Some of the potluck items included lavender scones, lavender lemon bars, blueberry pie with rose petals and a salad with sunflower seeds. In addition to bringing Maui lavender-mint iced tea, Islander shared a Moroccan chicken dish made with saffron and rose water. Other ingredients in this recipe include honey, cinnamon, hazelnuts, lemon and ginger, making the medley of flavors an exotic yet delicious combination. No wonder it was the members’ favorite flower-themed food! Make Moroccan roast chicken and savor the floral flavors during National Chicken Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Epicurious)

  • 1 large chicken, cut up into thighs, breasts, etc. (we used 12 chicken legs)
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (we used freshly grated ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • ¾ cup hazelnuts, unskinned and toasted
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (not extract or essence)
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the saffron, chopped onion, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper.

Moroccan Chicken

Add the chicken pieces and coat well. Arrange them in a large baking dish. Cover. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator, uncover and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside.

Moroccan Chicken

Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts by stirring them in a skillet over medium-low heat, being careful not to burn them. Let cool then coarsely chop them. Place the nuts in a small bowl. Mix with honey and rose water to make a thick glaze.

Moroccan Chicken

Remove the chicken from the oven and spread the glaze over each piece. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with chopped green onion. Serve hot with rice or couscous.

Moroccan Chicken

Notes

  • Thanks to Lisa L. for giving us a little jar of saffron as a souvenir from her visits to Spain and Morocco. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice because it takes between 70,000-250,000 flowers to make just one. The stigmas of the flower must be individually and painstakingly handpicked when in full bloom during the autumn season before drying them.
  • Rose water is not the same as rose extract/essence. The latter is derived from floral oils and is sometimes steeped in alcohol that makes the flavor taste more concentrated. Rose water is lighter and is made by distilling rose petals in water.
  • Search our blog for more chicken recipes.