Engagement Chicken (Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs)

It looks like the insanity of this summer might be starting to wind down finally.  Between the hectic summer we’ve had and the gorgeously cool weather at night, I can’t wait for fall to be here already.  Because I really know how to party, one of my favorite things to do is roast anything when it’s cool outside.  We finally had a long enough break in the schedule and from the heat for it to become acceptable to have the oven on for a few hours so I decided it was time for a real showstopper.  I took the plunge and whipped up something called “Engagement Chicken.”  Really it’s just a simple roasted chicken, covered in a sprinkling of salt and pepper and some lemon juice from a recipe circulating since 1982. It started when editor at Glamour gave the recipe to a co-worker, who made it for her boyfriend.  The boyfriend shortly offered up a marriage proposal, and a legend was born.  Legend also says this chicken is responsible for at least seventy marriage proposals.  I wish that I could tell you whether or not we are an Engagement Chicken success story, but Lane proposed before I ever got a chance to try this experiment.

You read that right, Lane proposed!  On an ordinary Friday, on our back deck.   I came home from work and Lane asked me to come look at something on our back deck.  When I went outside, he had our metal colander upside down on the table, covering what I assumed at the time would be a giant hideous bug, probably still alive (he has been talking non-stop about the cicadas so this wasn’t an irrational concern).  The next thing I know, the colander is lifted and there’s a Lego groom holding the most gorgeous ring I’ve ever seen, and he’s next to a Lego bride as Lane is getting on one knee.  I couldn’t stop laughing when M popped out onto the deck and started snapping photos of the event.

engagement chicken

Engagement Chicken


  • 1 whole (approximately 4 pound) chicken
  • 1/2 C. fresh lemon juice, plus 3 whole lemons—including 1 sliced for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley)


Place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the giblets from the cavity of the chicken.

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water then place the chicken into a colander, cavity down, for 2 minutes.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and place it breast-side-down in a roasting pan fitted with a rack.

Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, including into the cavity.

Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt and pepper, inside and out.

If the lemons are stiff, roll them on the counter while pressing down with the heel of your hand.  Prick 2 whole lemons in 3 different places each with a fork and push them into the chicken cavity (it’s okay if one of them is partly sticking out, as the cavity size varies).

Put the chicken into the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

Roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven and turn the chicken breast-side-up using tongs or two large wooden spoons.

Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh and return the chicken to the oven.

Continue roasting for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes (about 18-20 minutes per pound of chicken plus an additional 15 minutes), until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Pour the juices from the roasting pan over the sliced chicken.

Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

Source: Glamour Magazine


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