I was surrounded by strangers on the bus when I surprised my husband with a weird idea. It led to one of the most romantic moments of our marriage, writes Liz Burke.

There's an age-old trick among journalists and writers that's about as effective as Prince William's Rogaine regimen.

The theory goes, when your editor asks you to do something you're really not keen on, you enthusiastically agree, then avoid eye contact or passing their desk for the hours, days, or weeks until the assignment's absolute deadline has passed, hoping they will by then have found another unwilling victim to target with their next crazy idea.

But despite generations of practice, it never, ever works.

And so it happened that I came to be slaving over a hot oven at 10.30pm on a school night and prodding my partner to stay awake in an attempt to recreate one of the most romantic real-life scenes of our time — cooking Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement chicken.

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The royal couple managed to glamorise handling a slimy bird carcass when they shared their too-cute engagement story last year.

In an interview with the BBC announcing the engagement, Ms Markle described the night the Prince popped the question as "just a cosy night in".

"What we were doing? Just roasting chicken," she said. "It was just an amazing surprise. It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got down on one knee."

So when a crafty reporter at The Cut managed to find out the recipe the loved-up pair had been following, the challenge to recreate the romantic royal moment was too tempting.

As the article revealed, before she had even thought of entering the royal family in front of an audience of millions as she'll do this weekend, Ms Markle declared her love for roast chicken in an interview.

"There is nothing as delicious (or as impressive) as a perfectly roasted chicken," she told Good Housekeeping.

In that interview, Ms Markle cited a recipe from US entertaining goddess Ina Garten.

"If you have an Ina Garten-level roasted-chicken recipe, it's a game-changer," she said.

Challenge accepted.

I prepared to make Ms Garten's "Perfect roast chicken" by texting my husband and asking him to cancel any dinner plans he might have had for the following night. Naturally confused, he asked why.

"I have to roast a chicken," I said. "It's for work, and I need to do it this week and I can't explain why because I'm on a bus and there are dozens of people here who will think I'm a psycho."

So with a date sorted and the fact that I was cooking a dish fit for royalty in mind I set off to the fanciest supermarket I could find and managed to drop more than $60 on a single dish. This was not the $9/kg chook I'm used to picking up at Coles.

I have no idea how these ingredients added up to more than $60. Photo / Supplied
I have no idea how these ingredients added up to more than $60. Photo / Supplied

Markle didn't specify that her favourite dish had to be cooked with organic ingredients, but from her reported changes to Harry's diet and quotes like "green juice is a food-is-medicine philosophy for me" from past interviews, I thought I'd better be on the safe side.

After a long day of work, my hungry husband picked me up at about 8.30pm looking forward to the much-hyped dish and I got to work in the kitchen, not mentioning the probable two-and-a-half hours it would take to get it on the table.

The first step instructed I "remove the chicken giblets" and after a regrettable Google search I couldn't help but wonder if a princess would have to fish around inside the chicken cavity and do this herself.

The next instruction, to salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and "stuff the cavity" also raised questions for me over which point of the meal prep one would pick to propose.

This detail has never been revealed, but while I went through the process of cleaning, patting dry, picking clean, stuffing and smothering the bird with butter, I hoped for their royal hygiene's sake the ring didn't come out until hands were washed and the chook was in the oven.

At that point, back in the love bubble that was my kitchen, I was sitting down with a glass of red and my husband was reaching for rice crackers to tide him over the next hour.

When the dish came out of the oven and rested under foil for 20 minutes — an unwelcome delay that I carefully didn't announce until it was absolutely necessary — the skin was brown and crispy, the meat was plump and juicy, and the carrot and fennel held a beautiful, buttery, lemony flavour.

As we sat down at almost 11pm with our plates full of chicken and vegies taking bites between yawns, I realised the roasting process hadn't quite set off the fireworks my editor had hoped me to describe.

We had spent some quality couple's time together waiting for the chook to be cooked and those for those juices to run clear, but, still, I needed something romantic to include in order to complete my assignment to a satisfactory level.

Just as I had spent the past fortnight trying to come up with excuses not to write this article, my mind was racing trying to make up something romantic to include so I could finish it and move on with my life.

Then, my husband said: "It's nice that we're having their engagement meal on the same couch where we got engaged."

Too perfect to make up. And that's the power of a royal roast engagement chicken.