FOOD

I Made Ina Garten’s Engagement Chicken And It Made Me Want To Marry Myself

by Angela Andaloro

We’re in the throes of “engagement season,” and I’m yet again grappling with the weirdness of millennial wedding culture. From Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, our social media feeds are littered with happily engaged couples. I love seeing people happily in love, so I’m here for it! It’s just my own engagement status that leaves some less than satisfied.

I myself am happily not engaged — or rather, not unhappy about my lack of engagement. I’ve been with my boyfriend for about five years. Both of us are in our late 20s, and while getting married is on our eventual to-do list, it’s just not the priority right now. While I don’t generally feel the need to broadcast that fact, I also don’t mind explaining when someone asks.

Oh, and do they ask! I, a regular and unremarkable person, have had to denounce rumors of my supposed impending engagement. I’ve gotten reassurances that it’ll happen soon from people who don’t believe that I’m fine with the way things are. When I tell eager friends it’s not happening now (or now, or when you ask again in a week or two), they reply with a “You never know.”

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement, I was excited. I’m a lifelong fan of the royal family, and the more over-the-top a wedding is, the better. It was in the excitement about this wedding that I first heard of the so-called “engagement chicken.” When Meghan recalled the story of how Harry proposed during their engagement interview with BBC, she explained: “We were roasting chicken. It was just an amazing surprise. It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got down on one knee.”

The history of the engagement chicken goes back further than the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  The story actually begins with Glamour magazine, where an editor passed her assistant the recipe for a buttery, lemony roast chicken in the mid-1980s.  The assistant made the chicken for her boyfriend, who proposed a month later. The recipe was then passed along to three other staffers, who all reportedly got engaged shortly after making the chicken for their respective significant others. I don’t personally believe in the power of the chicken, but I do reverently believe in eating delicious chicken, so I decided to give it a go.

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There are several different varieties of the engagement chicken out there, but I decided to follow Ina Garten’s recipe at Meghan’s recommendation. She once told Good Housekeeping, “There is nothing as delicious (or as impressive) as a perfectly roasted chicken. If you have an Ina Garten-level roasted chicken recipe, it’s a game-changer. I bring that to dinner parties and make a lot of friends.”

You’ll need:

  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) roasting chicken

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 lemons

  • 1 whole head garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise

  • Good olive oil

  • 2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Prep Work

Prep Work
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Read through the recipe before you begin. This is the number-one way to avoid destroying everything, in my experience. I had to double-down on this knowledge, considering it was my first time ever roasting a chicken.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Then, quarter two lemons.

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Thickly slice the onion. Cut the whole head of garlic in half, crosswise.

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It was time to get the chicken ready, and as you might have noticed, I look skeptical. Remove the chicken from the package and take out the giblets. Then, pat the chicken dry.

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Rubbing down the inside of a bird isn’t fun. Even when the bird is entirely thawed, it’s still pretty cold in there. Rub the insides with salt and pepper to taste.

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Place two pieces of the quartered lemon inside the chicken. Then, add the garlic inside the chicken.

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Next, brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil. This part admittedly had me nervous. As I maneuvered the chicken, the things I put inside it kept falling out. Little did I know, I would later need scout-level training to tie the bird up (more on this shortly).

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Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Make sure to get both sides, so you have an evenly seasoned bird. Does this seem obvious? Sure. Did I almost forget? Of course.

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Next, you’re supposed to tuck the wings and tie the legs. I thought it was as simple as tying a knot. I did that, then looked at the chicken legs and watched it come undone. Then I looked up the right way to do it, which led to this insane but ultimately effective technique from ChefSteps.

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Put the chicken in a small roasting pan (ideally 11 inches by 14 inches). Go smaller rather than larger, as the onions will burn if you use too large a roasting pan.

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The rest of the lemons are put in a bowl with the onions. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, then toss. Pour the mixture around the chicken. It should roast for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes, but use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s fully cooked all the way through.

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Once the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh, it’s ready to come out. It should be golden brown and the skin should look crispy.

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Wrap the chicken tightly in foil and begin the sauce. The recipe says you can put your roasting pan directly on the stove, but that idea scared me, so I scraped all of the pan’s contents into a saucepan.

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Cook over medium-high heat. Add the cooking wine while stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits and incorporate. Add the chicken stock and the flour, stirring constantly. The sauce should thicken. Add any juices that have dripped from the resting chicken and continue to stir.

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Last but not least came carving the chicken, which also necessitated a video tutorial. I was a little anxious about screwing it up, so I let my boyfriend take a stab at it.

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The chicken was pretty awesome. Most importantly, I was proud of myself for getting through it with minimal assistance. Whether or not it works its allegedly magical powers, I can see why it’s the kind of recipe Meghan Markle chooses for gatherings. It was simple and scrumptious!

I’m still not sold on the idea that this chicken will change my life, although I did make jokes about it throughout the time I was working on it. I’d be happy to make it again, whether it gets me a diamond or not.