Garten has an extensive collection of chicken and chicken-adjacent recipes (we’re big fans of her updated chicken Marbella), but none seems so revered as her so-called engagement chicken. Interestingly, though, a quick Google search for the recipe doesn’t immediately lead to the Contessa’s version. First, you’ll find Rachael’s Engagement Chicken (as in Ray), alongside a version that Martha Stewart credits to Glamour magazine’s cookbook, 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know.
It seems this might be the original bird, as Glamour explains. The legend: In 1982, a fashion editor at the magazine shared a chicken recipe with an assistant, who then cooked it for her boyfriend—he proposed a month later. She shared the recipe with three more colleagues, who also got engaged after making it for their partners. Thus, engagement chicken was born.
The original recipe is extremely simple, requiring nothing more than chicken, lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs. How Garten came to own a particularly popular version is a bit of a mystery—she worked at the White House, not Glamour—but she told Today that she first heard of engagement chicken from none other than an editor at Glamour. (She even went so far as to hint that she’s responsible for the Sussex’s marriage. You go, girl.)
Garten’s recipe eliminates the herbs and adds onion and garlic, along with a pan sauce made from white wine, stock and the chicken drippings. As with all her dishes, it’s not too complicated (but still seems pretty fancy).