Chicken,  Dinner,  Valentine's Day

Engagement Chicken

So they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Could it really be all that easy??  Is cooking for a man the way to win his affections??

When my niece Nina heard about a roasted chicken recipe that had men proposing marriage to their girlfriends, she immediately thought of her single aunt and sent me the cookbook.  This cookbook, 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know is from the editors of Glamour Magazine.  This was the cookbook where I found and posted the No-Fail Kale Caesar Salad, which has become my favorite go to salad for kale.  Nina didn’t send me the cookbook for the salad recipe though.  It was for the roasted chicken recipe, otherwise known as the Engagement Chicken. 

The story goes back over 25 years ago when an editor for Glamour magazine gave her assistant this recipe to prepare dinner for her boyfriend.  About a month later, the boyfriend proposed and had commented that the dinner was one “your wife would make” and had begun thinking of her in that way.  Hearing that, the recipe was passed among the Glamour staff resulting in one after another proposals!  In fact, the forward of the book lists over 70 engagement stories following this chicken dinner!

Ina Garten also did an episode on the Engagement Chicken and its history.  If you watch Ina’s show, chicken is her husband’s favorite Friday night dinner.  Ina did tweak the recipe a bit adding in onions and chicken broth to this lemon and herb roasted chicken.   Glamour’s recipe uses whole lemons pierced with a fork and placed inside the bird.  Then plenty of lemon juice is poured over the bird creating a very moist and tender chicken.

Now I know you’re all wondering what happened to me when I made this bird.   Well, I’ve had this cookbook almost a year now and I’ve enjoyed many of the recipes.  I finally made this last week .… for my son.  So, no story to report on my end but I do pity the girl who tries to steal my son’s heart because she better know how to cook!  He is definitely spoiled in that area!!

 Engagement Chicken

Adapted from 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know

Serves 2 to 4

1 whole chicken (approximately 4-5 pounds)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 whole lemons—2 for stuffing in the bird, 1 sliced for garnish

1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ cup chicken broth (optional)

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.  Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.  Prick 2 whole lemons 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.)  Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out.

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. Return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. Check the bird to make sure the lemon juice does not completely evaporate and add in more juice or chicken broth.  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.”   I also removed the lemons, cut them in half and squeezed the warm juices over the bird.   Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


  • Chica Andaluza

    Am chuckling away here as we´ve just eaten chicken – cooked pretty much this way! Funnily though (it was one of ours but a little hen who was being bullied by the big boys so we had to deal with her sooner than we normally would) all Big Man could say was “I like to see a bit more thigh on a chicken than that”! We´re not married, and not looking to be, but if we change our minds one day, I´ll see if I can track it back to a chicken meal 😉

  • David

    Well, I’m already taken, but this sure looks good! I can imagine the aroma, rich chicken kissed with citrus… Boy, all this kissing, engagement, “marry me juice, spring must be around the corner!”

  • Liz

    That photo makes me hungry for lemon herb chicken!!

    I found your blog looking for an oatmeal raisin biscotti recipe and have been been perusing, planning and cooking from it for three weeks. I love the kale salad! I make it with whatever type of vinaigrette sounds good to me and prepare enough for a day or so. It is wonderful. I live rurally and work from a home office so kale is one of the few organic greens that I buy as lettuces just do not last.

    Also made the cauliflower pizza with a wee bit of pesto – another winner. And I did make the biscotti :)!

    Lots more on my list including this chicken.

  • Kristy

    LOL! I love it Linda! The girl that steals your son’s heart will definitely have a lot to live up to in the kitchen. 😉 This chicken looks fantastic! I’ve seen lots of roasted chicken recipes and have been wanting to try one, but this picture has sold me on this recipe. It looks so crispy and flavorful. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • ChgoJohn

    I dunno, Linda. It may not be such a bad thing if your Son marries a girl who doesn’t know her way around the kitchen. You’ll probably see them far more often. Nothing brings a boy home like a tray of Mom’s lasagna. And what is it about lemon & chicken? The 2 go so well together and this recipe is a prime example. Thanks for sharing.

  • sallybr

    I used to make a chicken called “chicken with two lemons” or something rather, quite similar to this recipe, if I remember correctly, but the “married me juice” turns it into a non-stop flight to Nirvana Land.

    gotta try it next time I make a roast chicken. And I agree with John, there’s something about chicken and lemon… perfect together

  • bitsandbreadcrumbs

    This chicken looks so inviting, now I must roast one soon as I haven’t done it in a while! To say your son is spoiled by good cooking is to put it mildly, Linda, as you are a fabulous cook. That girl really will have her work cut out for her, but what a wonderful teacher she’ll have in you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • AikoVenus

    I don’t eat chicken (or anything related to animals) but I think the idea of this is funny. Hehe, your niece must have been very excited when she gave you that recipe (specifically). ^^

  • Judy

    For us, it was engagement shrimp (lol). For my then boyfriend, now hubby of 24 years, I made him shrimp three ways for his birthday and he was talkin’ marriage (still makes me laugh). It’s funny your niece sent you that recipe, some things are just not subtle, eh?

    I need to make the Kale Caesar Salad, rather I should have made it last week before my kale became a limp mass of pale green in the bottom of my crisper! ugh.

  • Lisa {Smart Food and Fit}

    What a cute story {smiles}! I too love to use fresh lemon and herbs when oven roasting my chicken, but my homemade chicken soup is what got my husband to fall in love with me. I spoil my boys too with cooking and hoping that when they find a good girl, that she knows how to cook but not as good as me so they’ll come by for dinner at least on Sundays to see me! lol
    I bet your kids just love coming home to your cooking! I love just stopping by to read about your cooking! 🙂 Wishing you a great Valentine’s Day!:)

  • Juliana

    Linda, this chicken sure looks delicious, like the idea of lots of lemons…it is sure perfectly roasted…and you are so funny about your son 🙂
    Nice post and hope you are having a wonderful week!

  • Just A Smidgen

    Hmmmm, I’m thinking this chicken has definitely set the bar high for your son! As have the rest of your recipes and your beautiful blog (btw, I love your Valentine’s Day with Cupid header:) What a delightful story, I hadn’t ever heard about the Engagement Chicken.. and I love the Barefoot Contessa!!

  • Charles

    Gosh, I heard of sticking one lemon in a chicken before… but three??? I’m gonna be a little crude here, but damn, that must be one big-ass chicken! (pun fully intended).

    It looks beautiful though – You can’t beat a good, whole chicken on a Sunday (or indeed any day of the week!).

  • Marie

    I’ve seen this recipe a hundred times, why don’t I just make it already? Thanks for the thoughtful comment on my guest post today. I feel the same way about my son, his future wife better know how to cook because he is used to homecooking. If she doesn’t cook I hope she is willing to learn.

  • thekalechronicles

    I don’t think I have ever used a half-cup of lemon juice with roast chicken, although I have stuffed lemons and oranges in the cavity. Thanks for the link to the kale Caesar salad — I’m going to try that next time we get kale: the marinating should help with the tough texture and ameliorate the kale flavor.

  • Amy (Savory Moments)

    I’m not sure if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach or not, but I think it certainly helps with my husband! 🙂 Of course, I think it’s sort of the way to my heart, too… This chicken looks great!

  • Granny

    Adorable. Maybe you have just turned the tables on this recipe and it is your son who will some day make it for a lady friend and she will propose. You never know these days!

  • France

    We must have been thinking on the same wave length. We probably made a bird on the same day! I love the idea of stuffing the bird with whole lemons! That’s a must try.
    ps great story too.

  • Sissi

    This chicken story is incredible! It looks so luscious the proposals are not surprising. Thank you for sharing! I must remember to pass it to friends in need 😉

  • Purely.. Kay

    If I ever get engaged.. I want this chicken made for me while my future husband gets down on one knee lol. I LOVE this chicken recipe Linda. You have outdone yourself with this (you know I;m a chicken connoisseur lol)

  • Geni - Sweet and Crumby

    I am considering making this for our extended family’s “sunday dinner” this weekend. I have a couple of questions. When you pour the lemon juice over, do the seasonings not wash off? Can you tell I am a worrier by nature? Also, do you pour the chicken broth right into the roasting pan? At first, I was like, “What the heck?” when you told us to put it breast side down but then I read on. I was seriously wondering about your Linda. 😉

    • spicegirlfla

      Geni, you are absolutely right about the lemon juice. I put the recipe down as Glamour posted but YES indeed, I should adjust the pouring over the lemon juice as when I first made it, of course, the seasonings washed off! So I had to add more. Buth I did after that pour the juice over first, then season. The chioken broth was what Ina added, not in the original recipe. I add it to the roasting pan on the bottom just so that the lemon juice does not all roast away and there is some juice on the bottom. Also check it during the roasting time if needed to add more juice – which I do pour over the chicken in a basting way. I do enjoy drinking a glass of wine while I cook so I can understand you thought I was a bit off on!!!

  • hotlyspiced

    What a gorgeous looking chicken. I love chicken like that – done so simply but full of flavour – I will definitely be cooking this! And of course I love the story behind the recipe – every good recipe deserves a story.

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