Roast hen may be probably the most romantic dinner of all


If restaurant Valentine’s Day menus are to be believed, the meals that whisper “romance” are tenderloin steaks and butter-poached lobster, all perched atop gold-rimmed china. Truffles and oysters abound. And chocolate rules the dessert course like a satin-draped siren.

However the meals that may truly beat out these cliches within the division of amour is definitely fairly humble: Take into account the roast hen. Served at house. Atop your on a regular basis plates. Unglamorous? Possibly. However hear me out: A golden-skinned chicken, ready with care, if not large effort, would possibly simply be probably the most romantic of dinners.

Rooster has a low-key popularity as an unlikely aphrodisiac. You may need heard the decades-old lore of “engagement hen” — a lemon-stuffed chicken with such bewitching properties that, when ready for a lover, is alleged to immediate a wedding proposal inside days. In accordance with the story, in 1982, Glamour editor Cindi Leive shared a recipe for roast chicken along with her assistant, who made it for her boyfriend. Stated boyfriend proposed quickly after, and the assistant handed alongside the recipe to 3 colleagues who had related experiences.

Roasting a chicken is as easy as putting a baking sheet in the oven

Ina Garten helped unfold the phrase of the magic chicken, publishing her personal recipe for it. In a 2010 episode of her Meals Community present, the prepare dinner often called the Barefoot Contessa described first listening to concerning the dish at a latest social gathering from two “extremely stunning ladies from Glamour journal” who advised her it had labored for everybody of their workplace.

Garten was already an evangelist for poultry as love language: Her husband, Jeffrey, the opposite half of the #relationshipgoals couple, has all the time been famously sizzling for his spouse’s roasted chicken. In her first cookbook, Garten prefaced her recipe for “Excellent Roast Rooster” by describing the way it was his favourite Friday night time dinner, a dish she ready as he made his weekly commute from town to their house within the Hamptons. “There’s nothing just like the scent of a roast hen to make him really feel that the journey was value it,” she wrote.

The ability of the roast-chicken-as-love-potion obtained a more moderen endorsement when it made a cameo within the how-we-got-engaged story that Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex shared in interviews. The couple was having fun with a typical night time in, “roasting a hen,” Meghan recalled. “Making an attempt to roast a hen,” Harry interjected. The prince presumably took a break from basting to drop to a knee.

In fact, together with the scent of garlic and herbs, the idea of “engagement hen” bears the whiff of antiquated notions: determined single ladies performing home feats to snare their males, or the concept that a associate may be received by way of a single heroic act. However beneath these layers, there are the bones of one thing true to many individuals: Rooster conveys love.

Jacques Pépin, the legendary chef, cookbook writer and TV character, has all the time felt a connection between chickens and love — his 2022 guide of recipes and work, “Art of the Chicken,” chronicled it. In an interview, he recalled making numerous roast chickens for dinners together with his spouse, Gloria, of their Connecticut house. Generally it was the type his maman made for him, served with a cream sauce seasoned with tarragon, and typically with the flavors of her Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage.

Make the recipe: Sumac Roast Chicken With Carrots and Chickpeas

“It makes no distinction if it’s your child or grandmother or your lover, you categorical your love by way of your cooking,” says Pépin, who at 87 years previous not retains a flock of his personal however as an alternative procures eggs and the occasional chicken from a pal.

In his guide, he famous that the French use “hen” as a time period of endearment. “A loving husband will name his spouse a cocotte [little chicken] or ma poule, or my hen,” he wrote. “Conversely, a loving spouse will name her husband mon poulet, or my hen.”

So many meals usually regarded as romantic are these thought to juice the libido (even when science doesn’t precisely agree with the entrepreneurs on these purported qualities). Legendary 18th-century lover Giacomo Casanova is said to have eaten dozens of oysters earlier than his trysts, and historical Romans believed strawberries had been linked to Venus, the goddess of affection, due to their crimson colour and coronary heart form.

Others — corresponding to dear filet mignon or gold-leafed something — appear to be extra about conveying wealth and standing, the culinary equal of a blingy diamond ring.

However Ashley Rodriguez, writer of the “Date Night In” cookbook, says the higher means to consider attractive meals is the intention behind it. A hen, she notes, requires some forethought — she likes to season her birds properly earlier than cooking them to maximise taste — and care in preparation, that are acts of affection. “It says, ‘I considered you and this meal and this second’” she says. “And as homey and comforting as roast hen is, I nonetheless really feel prefer it creates an event.”

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Meals blogger and publication writer Adam Roberts started making roast hen for his now-husband once they had been relationship. It’s turn out to be a “favourite ritual” of their relationship, he stated — at first, they favored a Chez Panisse recipe with fennel seeds and cayenne pepper, however lately, it’s extra doubtless a Thomas Keller model with roast greens. And regardless that a roast hen would possibly evoke a temper that’s extra cozy than outright carnal, Roberts nonetheless thinks there’s one thing sensual concerning the dish.

“You possibly can inform so much about an individual’s sexual prowess by how they deal with the chicken: In the event that they use a knife and fork, they’re a sleep within the sack,” he says. “When you see them tearing it aside with their arms, gnawing on the bone, and making an enormous mess of issues … that one’s a keeper.”

I can personally vouch for roast hen as date-night meals. I’ve discovered that it’s the form of dish that makes eating in really feel like an event — presenting it, sizzling from the oven, all brown and crisp, looks as if I’m providing a present. In the course of the pandemic, it turned much more vital to my husband and me to get pleasure from moments at house that felt particular, and Roast Rooster Evening by some means did stand out from the countless string of Blurs-days. (We experimented with totally different preparations, however we’ve settled on a super-simple Thomas Keller recipe, too.)

Make the recipe: Maple Mustard Roasted Chicken

Charles Hunter III, a private chef and blogger, says the “set it and neglect it” nature of a roast hen signifies that you don’t need to fuss over it — as an alternative, you possibly can flip your consideration to the individual you’re cooking for. “It’s heat and comfortable and alluring,” he says. “It may be the proper date night time meals or for a romantic second as a result of it may be properly executed with easy elements.”

The scent can also be a part of the enchantment, he finds.

“It does make your house scent wonderful — you need somebody to stroll in and take a deep inhale and know one thing good goes to occur. I find it irresistible when my spouse walks in and asks, ‘What are you cooking?’”

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