This piece originally appears in Eagle News’ Exquisite Bridal Guide, available on newsstands around Central New York.
By Ashley M. Casey
As a girl, I grew up reading my older sister Tricia’s Glamour magazines. When I was a teenager, I finally got my own subscription. I read the magazine into my twenties.
I was never one of those girls who had every detail of her wedding planned out before ever meeting Mr. Right, but I was enchanted by one fairy tale Glamour has passed down for nearly 40 years.
Per Glamour lore, a fashion editor in 1982 returned from Italy raving about the best chicken she’d ever tasted. She passed the recipe to her assistant, who whipped up the simple herb-and-lemon roasted chicken for her boyfriend. Within a month, the man proposed. The lucky lady shared the recipe with her co-workers, who reported similar romantic results.
The January 2004 issue immortalized Glamour’s famed “Engagement Chicken” recipe. Due to its popularity among Glamour staffers and readers, Engagement Chicken has been credited for dozens of marriage proposals. Prince Harry even proposed to Meghan Markle while they were cooking roast chicken together in 2017.
I began dating my now-husband, Kenny, in the fall of 2011. We met-cute at our college newspaper, The Dolphin, and it was love at first laugh. Within a few years, we knew we wanted to get married.
Perhaps this defeated the purpose of the magical meal, but I told Kenny about Engagement Chicken. I had always wanted to make it for the person I would marry, and Kenny will eat just about anything that doesn’t eat him first.
Often, when we’re cooking, Kenny is the sous chef in charge of washing, chopping, and prepping — all the menial tasks I hate doing. He even does dishes. (Okay, now I’m just bragging about my perfect husband.)
This time, though, I felt having Kenny’s help would interfere with Engagement Chicken’s enchantment. So when I decided to make the dish one evening in July 2015, I insisted I would need no assistance in the kitchen.
Oh, how wrong I was.
Engagement Chicken was a disaster from start to finish. Ever the procrastinator, I spent the afternoon dashing between Wegmans and my parents’ farm to gather the required lemons, herbs and vegetables. When Kenny got home from work, he found me trying to cram lemons up the half-frozen carcass of the chicken, which I had carefully selected from a free-range local farm.
He waited patiently as I panicked in the kitchen. I had to cover a town board meeting that evening, so the clock was ticking.
Finally, I popped my head out into the living room.
“I know I said I didn’t need your help, but … can you help me finish dinner?” I pleaded.
Kenny obliged, and I set him to work scrubbing potatoes and chopping cipollini onions.
When we finished, we had an Instagram-worthy meal. I even took a picture for posterity.
Famished, we dug in. Kenny politely chewed as I pushed the poultry around my plate.
“This chicken is terrible,” I announced, disgusted.
Glamour had let us down. The vaguely lemon-flavored chicken was bland and forgettable at best.
The potatoes, on the other hand … I’ll let Kenny describe them.
“Oh my God! They tasted as if they were handed down from Heaven itself,” he recalled.
It wasn’t like he had never had these potatoes before. The only remotely fancy thing about them was the addition of cipollini onions, which caramelized beautifully alongside the potatoes. I made these potatoes the way I make most food: I drizzled them in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and hoped for the best.
Incidentally, that’s what we did with the failed Engagement Chicken. We doused the half-frozen bird in olive oil and garlic and shoved it back in the oven so it could think about how it had wronged us. We ended up making chicken wing dip with the leftovers.
After dinner, we took a stroll around the swan pond in Manlius. Kenny proposed to me in a gazebo overlooking the pond. Of course, I said yes, and we were married just over a year later.
We still laugh about the unfortunate Engagement Chicken, but even better, we still fondly reminisce about cooking dinner together. “Engagement Potatoes,” as Kenny dubbed them henceforth, is still his favorite among my recipes.
I realized that getting married wasn’t about the perfect proposal or perfectly filtered photos for Instagram. Kenny and I still would have gotten married even if I hadn’t decided to make Engagement Chicken. Our relationship was — and still is — so much more. I learned it’s okay to ask for help, and life turns out just fine with the right person by your side.
Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis of The Food Network.
1 pound small red, white, blue and/or fingerling potatoes (about 1 3/4-inch diameter), scrubbed
1/2 pound cipollini onions, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Toss potatoes and onions in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place the mixture in a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
3. Roast until potatoes are tender and golden and the onions are caramelized, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Uncover the dish to let excess oil cook off, 15-20 minutes.