First comes chicken, then comes marriage? Be skeptical if you must, but this recipe may be charmed. It all began 26 years ago, when then-Glamour fashion editor Kim Bonnell gave the recipe to her assistant, Kathy Suder, who made the chicken for her boyfriend, who, a month later, asked her to marry him. “It’s a meal your wife would make. It got me thinking,” says Jon Suder, who now has three children with Kathy. Details of the simple dish passed from assistant to assistant like a culinary chain letter. When Bonnell heard that her recipe had inspired three weddings, she dubbed it Engagement Chicken. Try the recipe, give it to a friend—oh, and let us know when it works!
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)
1. 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.
2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fi tted 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.
3. 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.)
4. Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
5. 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.
6. 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.