The chicken that might put a ring on it
By Christina Morales
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, Funston’s video producer took a bite and declared, “I’d marry you for that chicken!” She named the dish “Marry Me Chicken.”
On TikTok, there are hundreds of variations on the original recipe that go by the same name. Some cooks make it with jerk-style spices; some serve the creamy dish with pasta.
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 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, a 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,” 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, 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.
Araguás, a podiatrist, made the roast chicken and even though he didn’t know the recipe’s name, 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.
Marry me chicken
By Naz Deravian
This cozy dish, which went viral on TikTok with claims that if you prepare it for someone, you will end up getting married, features boneless chicken breasts nestled in a creamy, tomato-y sauce. With wedding bells in mind or not, this dish comes together fairly quickly and is just as great for entertaining as it is for a family meal. In this version, the addition of tomato paste adds a bright acidity to the rich cream sauce and complements the sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with crusty bread to sop up all the juices as well as tangy green salad to balance out the sauce’s richness. Or, try it over pasta, rice or polenta.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 1 hour
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 6 chicken cutlets (about 2 1/4 pounds total), patted dry
Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Red-pepper flakes, to taste
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan
1/3 cup (2.4 ounces/67 grams) sliced sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
Fresh basil, for serving
1. If using chicken breasts, start from the thickest end and slice each chicken breast in half horizontally so you end up with a total of 6 cutlets (see Tip). Season both sides of the chicken cutlets well with salt and pepper.
2. Scatter the flour on a large plate and coat the cutlets, shaking off the excess. Transfer the cutlets to a sheet pan or large plate in a single layer.
3. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high. Once hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the butter. As soon as it melts, add the cutlets and cook until golden on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook the other side until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Do this in batches, if needed, adding more oil, if needed. Transfer the cutlets to a plate or sheet pan.
4. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stirring until the color deepens, about 2 minutes. Add the oregano and red-pepper flakes, to taste. Increase the heat to medium, add the stock and bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
5. Add 1/2 cup of the cream and warm through, stirring, until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Watch the cream closely, reducing the heat if necessary, to maintain a gentle simmer. Stir in the Parmesan and the sun-dried tomatoes. Add more cream, if you like, and season the sauce. Place the chicken back in the pan to warm through, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and scatter basil on top.
Tip: To make it easier to slice into cutlets, place the chicken breasts in the freezer for 20 minutes.