The quickest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, or so the saying goes. But what if a piece of chicken, drenched in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce, was the best shortcut to the altar?
In 2016, when Lindsay Funston was an editor at Delish, she created a recipe video for a Tuscan-style chicken dish that attracted millions of views. When she was done cooking, Ms. Funston’s video producer took a bite and declared, “I’d marry you for that chicken!” She named the dish “Marry Me Chicken.”
But others confuse this modern take on a marriage-worthy dish with “Engagement Chicken,” an earlier recipe from Glamour magazine.
That one, for a whole roasted chicken with lemon and herbs, was published by the magazine in 2004. But since the mid-1980s, Kim Bonnell, a former fashion editor at Glamour who developed the recipe, had been giving it to several assistants in her department.
“They were dating and they wanted to invite their boyfriends for dinner,” said Ms. Bonnell, who used Marcella Hazan’s roast chicken recipe as inspiration for her own. “I started sharing this recipe, and then next thing you know, people started getting engaged.”
Shortly after it published the recipe, Glamour received many letters from readers telling how the dish had elicited proposals, said Cindi Leive, the former editor in chief. She and other editors created a hall of fame honoring the couples in their cookbook “100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Fabulous Dishes to Get You Everything You Want in Life.” Even Ina Garten created her own take on the dish.
“Nobody is using poultry to trick someone into marrying them,” Ms. Leive said, “but I do think that there’s something about chicken. It’s not outlandishly expensive, it cuts across cultures, feels homey.”
In 2008, Dr. Rosario Araguás was itching for a proposal from Wesley Lavoie after dating him for a year and a half. She did a Google search — “how to get your boyfriend to propose” — and the recipe popped up.
Dr. Araguás, a podiatrist, made the roast chicken and even though he didn’t know the recipe’s name, Mr. Lavoie said he’d marry her for the dish. Three months later, he proposed. They’ve now been married for 13 years and have two children.
“I’m happy the recipe worked,” she said with a laugh.