I recently heard a rumor that Mike was trying to tell people he wasn’t really a good cook. That he needed a whole day to prepare and execute a meal worth getting hungry for and usually that doesn’t happen. From over seven years of personal experience, I can add that he probably will tell you he only does a couple things well and I can tell you that sometimes when you volunteer him to make those specialties, say Buffalo Chicken Dip, he scorns, squinches and draws sharp, deep intakes of breath in undeniable fear and frustration. But, don’t let these he-man traits fool you. He’s no stranger to the kitchen. He’s also no amateur when it comes to whipping up pretty distinguished dishes.
The story begins with the overwhelming amount of frozen chicken we have in our freezer. I’m talking enough to eat two pieces of chicken a day for two weeks. We have no plans for that, and I really hate to de-thaw chicken in the microwave, so small windows of opportunity for dinner leave us continually increasing that quantity of chicken. But I did make the mistake of buying a strangely large amount of bone-in chicken thighs. Don’t get me wrong, the bone-in chicken thigh just might be the most favorable of all cuts of poultry. But, it takes forEVER to cook. And sometimes the gristly bones absolutely gross me out. But, we’re stuck with them. And we are really trying this whole “eat what’s in your fridge thing” rather than picking up the latest craving every night.
Well, I discovered that post-microwave thaw, the chicken will cook up pretty quickly in the oven. And the baked chicken stays pretty juicy. Plus, the apartment-style stove (we have one that burns anything and everything right up on even the lowest setting, to one that barely registers a boil even at the highest setting) doesn’t bode well for chicken that takes a long time to get going.
After a successful evening of baked chicken and Rice-a-Roni, Mike was left with a a myriad of random choices for the next night… when he’d be responsible for his own 3rd meal. I did the same thing as last time – “Babe, you can bake some chicken that you sprinkle salt and pepper on and you can make a salad with the leftover lettuce we have, blah blah blah” Honest admission for the sake of telling a true story – I fully expected to come home and find him eating beer nuts, a sandwich and an apple.
Well, this makes twice I’ve been absolutely guilty of underestimating my main man. On the drive home, he said he was eating chicken. Really? Yes. Did you bake it? Yes. Did you put salt and pepper on it. Yes. Was it good? Yeah!
Okay, we’ll see. Mike eats canned tuna like it’s a fresh bag of Cheeto’s, so sometimes I still feel the need to taste it to believe it.
Well, surprise number two. The apartment smelled dreamy. Dreamy! Not only did Mike bake the chicken with salt and pepper, but he added a marinade of Italian Dressing, wrapped the chicken in foil and let it simmer to sinful serenity until it literally fell off the bone. I’ve never cooked a piece of chicken this well. (small moment of panic) I scarfed down my helping. Scarfed, folks. I could have eaten another, full or not… it was THAT good. And no, he didn’t really know what he was doing, and maybe its just part of being an Italian, but his instinct was ON, his creativity and willingness to eat something other than the staple (staple=sandwich, apple, beer nuts) and he pretty much just knocked it out of the park.
Part of me worries (the small panic part) that maybe I really suck at making dinner. In fact, the last big meal I made was overall best described as bland (it was a new recipe, I will improve it, for sure). Am I being replaced? Outshined? Does Mike not only bring home the bacon and run our household’s most important decisions… is he also going to do the cooking? Crap! Where do I fit in now? (side note – new justification for my obsession with cute pajamas??)
Game on, Michael. Don’t think you can buy me a cookbook the Christmas before we get married, butter me up with compliments on the majority of my dishes and then out of the blue BAM, pull your Bobby Flay out of the closet and replace my most valued position in the family. I’m putting on an apron this time. I’m pulling out all the stops. I might even get flour in my hair. Chicken, schmicken. Just wait.
…assuming you’ll still help with the dishes?