Why Roast Chicken Is The Most Romantic Meal You Can Make

From “Marry Me Chicken” to Southern skillet chicken, it has a secret way of wooing.

Spatchcock Roasted Chicken

Alison Miksch

People from the South are no strangers to showing love through cooking, or the sentiment that the quickest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. In fact, there’s so much love in every family recipe that no one would dare to change it as time goes on, whether it’s your grandmother’s sky-high caramel cake or aunt’s rave-worthy red beans and rice. Now, when it comes to cooking for someone whom you love and want to impress—for a birthday, holiday, date night, or special occasion such as Valentine's Day—that’s when you break out the one recipe that you know won’t let you down. For many people, that's chicken. 

Chicken, as unassuming as it sounds, is actually the best thing to make when you’re looking for success. Not just because an artful poultry dish can prove much easier than a beef wellington or soufflé, but because there’s a simple deliciousness to a perfectly cooked chicken that will have someone coming back for seconds and, apparently, occasionally asking for your hand in marriage. You heard that right. Chicken is the ultimate romantic meal. 

It started with “Marry Me Chicken.” The story goes, an editor at Glamour magazine decades ago gave a coworker a roasted chicken recipe to cook for a boyfriend, who then proposed on the spot upon eating. Was it the mere perfection of the roasted chicken, or perhaps just a coincidence in timing? No one will ever know, but it's certainly more fun to associate the two. The recipe itself was simple and called for lemon, seasoning, and herbs. 

Now, Marry Me Chicken thrives as a whole category of recipes all its own, and a quick search online produces countless options, with the most popular rendition being based off of a creamy, garlicky skillet chicken with sundried tomatoes that gets seared and finished in the oven until the sauce is bubbling and luxurious. They’d all be considered “simple” by any measure, especially when ranked amongst other recipes deemed impressive enough to make for someone you wish to drop down on one knee. And that is the magic of roast chicken. 

Similarly, Ina Garten has her own version of a proposal-worthy chicken recipe known as “Engagement Chicken.” It’s also straightforward in its approach and ingredients, calling for a whole chicken, lemons, garlic, onions, and a splash of white wine. It’s even rumored that her recipe is what Meghan Markle was making when Prince Harry proposed. Not steak. Not branzino. Chicken.

All this begs the question, what’s so special about roast chicken? As with many things, sometimes simple really is better. There’s an art to doing something simply but perfectly. Chicken, while seeming underwhelming at first glance, only requires a little—such as lemon, butter, garlic, or cream—to go a long way in terms of flavor. It’s approachable for less experienced cooks, yet even the best chefs still love to make it. 

For those looking for a new recipe to make for a loved one, try one of our beloved Oven-Baked Chicken Recipes to find your next winner, winner chicken dinner. 

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