If you have wished for it, hoped for it, never wanted it, always wanted it, sometimes wanted it, got it then questioned it, got it then were all smiles, or had it arranged for you, this chicken may be for you.
I heard about the “engagement chicken” after I was engaged, but for some reason I held on to the recipe. I was intrigued, sad, and understanding that a few pounds of poultry was all that was standing between a girl and her happiness.
As I started to plan for my October wedding, I thought of the engagement chicken. Jim and I have been engaged for five years, and for the first couple years without a wedding date in sight, strangers had no qualms about telling us a long engagement means a short marriage, or asking when the wedding date was, disappointed at the looks of “we are already married.” In our eyes. To me the engagement is the commitment. Maybe this should be called commitment chicken. I wasn’t one of those girls who dreamed of their wedding day for their entire existence, or even for my entire dating existence. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be married. I don’t need to pay $65, and get a piece of paper from the government telling me I am on the up and up with my love life. Then I met Jim. I realized not only did I want to marry him, but I would probably be the one to ask first. On a weekday night, in bed, in our studio apartment, with a bed loft two feet from the ceiling, reading together, I started complaining about my crappy job, something we both did all the time, and in the middle of my rant I gained a best friend and lover for life. He asked, I said “are you serious?”, and the rest has been making history. We toasted with Pabst Blue Ribbon (in chalices), and talked about what had just happened. We had talked about marriage before, and knew it could be in our future, but were happy getting to know each other and enjoying our new life together, but that night asking, and saying yes, just felt right.
I was fortunate to be given my late nanny’s engagement ring for my 18th birthday by my grandfather. I was also fortunate is was a perfect, beautiful diamond in a white gold setting that I loved. I am not a fan of gold jewelry. My grandfather had very good taste. If the ring had anything to do with how much he loved her, he loved her very well on a new cop’s salary in the 1950’s. I couldn’t get her band sized down because it was white gold, so Jim and I got to contribute to our ring by picking out a new band, that is very similar to my nanny’s. So I have got the old, and the something new covered, now for the timeless devotion.
I can’t talk about engagements without mentioning one of my oldest friends, Melody. She got engaged on St. Patrick’s Day last year, and will be getting married a few weeks before me in October. The reason why her engagement is extra special to me is because Melody is one of the best people there is. She is funny, caring, smart, a beauty, and she can belt out Janice Joplin like nobody’s business. She has also dated jerks. One in particular. You know who you are. And then there was James. Wonderful, caring, understanding, smart James. I met James for five minutes and knew he was a good egg, and a good egg for Mel. She deserves someone very special, because she is very special. James has filled that space, and Mel’s heart. I wish them my best. They will be heading off to the Peace Corps together next year, which has been a lifelong dream for Mel. I could not be happier for any two people, or cats for that matter. She is also doing me the honor of officiating at our wedding, which I couldn’t be more thankful for. Is tu mo ghra.
And now, there ain’t nobody here but us chickens.
This chicken is fine, but needed something. At the very least butter and cayenne. Add whatever herbs or spices that you like, and it will be much better. I also broiled mine to crisp up the skin a little. If you’re boring, I mean healthy, and don’t eat the skin, then skip this step. I also had a longer cooking time. Make sure to check with a meat thermometer!
- 1 whole chicken (approx. 3 lb.)
- 2 medium lemons
- Fresh lemon juice (1/2 cup)
- Kosher or sea salt
- Ground black pepper
Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Wash chicken inside and out with cold water, remove the giblets, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander until it reaches room temp (about 15 minutes). Pat dry with paper towels. Pour lemon juice all over the chicken (inside and outside). Season with salt and pepper. Prick the whole lemons three times with a fork and place deep inside the cavity. (Tip: If lemons are hard, roll on countertop with your palm to get juices flowing.) Place the bird breast-side down on a rack in a roasting pan, lower heat to 350 degrees and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn it breast-side up (use wooden spoons!); return it to oven for 35 minutes more. Test for doneness—a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh should read 180 degrees, or juices should run clear when chicken is pricked with a fork. Continue baking if necessary. Let chicken cool for a few minutes before carving. Serve with juices.
Here is another recipe for engagement chicken from Ina Garten.
• noun (pl. dowries) property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage.
— ORIGIN Old French dowarie, from Latin dotare ‘endow’ (see DOWER).
In my opinion these are engagement potatoes. Some of the best I have ever had. I thought they might be overpowering with too much rosemary, but they were perfect.
Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 tbls. chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, or more if you like
2lb Yukon gold potatoes
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 cup or more heavy cream
1/4 tsp or more freshly ground pepper
1. Heat butter, chopped rosemary, and garlic over low heat, while potatoes are cooking. I put the pan on my back right burner while the oven is on. It is lower than low. If yours does not get as hot as mine do it on low, but keep an eye on it.
*Starting at age 14 worked in a small, family owned, Italian restaurant making pizza, and we always had a pot of butter with chopped garlic on the top of the oven without having a burner turned on. We used it for everything. It mellowed the garlic without overcooking, but stayed liquefied, just asking to be poured on anything your were eating. To this day, the best garlic bread I have ever had. Clams casino, pasta, white pizza, I am sure there was a salad or two I put it on. Butter garlic memories that I carry on.
2. Cut potatoes into 2-inch pieces, cover in cold water by 1 inch, season with salt, and add the sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a boil, turn down to medium high and boil gently until tender. Drain, and remove rosemary.
3. Add cream to butter/rosemary mixture, and warm.
4. Put potatoes back on turned off burner that you just cooked them on. Add cream/butter mixture, mash, salt, pepper, parm, and cream as desired.
Jim got these twee sprouts at the market, and I knew they would be perfect for some Brussotash. Inspired by the Bon Vivant’s Brussels Sprout Corn Hash and Bacon. Check out her blog: http://theepicuriosity.wordpress.com/
Use your favorite succotash recipe. I make succotash with peas, green beans, Lima beans, edamame, butter beans, and fava beans, but for some reason never thought of Brussels sprouts. We all have flaws.
My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.