Matt was delighted: “You’re cooking dinner on Sunday? Awesome!” I was a lot less sure, but I tried my best to channel Frank. This was less about a recipe and more about trusting my taste buds. (Plus, I did have a crib sheet of tips and tricks I could refer to that I had jotted down in my phone immediately after the class.) The weekend felt like a safer bet since I’d have time to run out for forgotten groceries or to triage any last-minute mistakes. Oh, and there were mistakes, mainly due to a lack of familiarity with our pantry. (Did we have red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar? Unsure, I bought both.) But I also blanked on exactly how to truss the chicken, something Frank went over in detail. (A YouTube tutorial saved me there.)
I did the grocery shopping, then started cooking at 6 p.m. Right away, Matt started offering suggestions, but I stopped him: “I got this!” (Even though, TBH, I wasn’t sure that I did.) At 9 p.m., about 90 minutes past the time I expected to eat, we sat down at the table. While I had nailed the mashed potatoes, the veggies were a little bit rubbery and tough. (“I overcooked them,” I muttered aloud.) But the roast chicken turned out tender and moist. Aside from adding just a little bit of salt, Matt acknowledged, “It’s pretty good!” Unlike me, post-meal, my husband offered to help with the dishes.
Overall, he was quite pleased with my interest and participation in taking on such a grandiose meal. (Chicken may be basic, but there’s an art to it turning out well.) He even ate the terrible vegetables I’d overcooked and talked emphatically during dinner about the show he’d binged three hour-long episodes of during the time I was in the kitchen. (Note to self: Time flies when you’re not the one organizing to get a hot meal on the table.)
Still, this experience taught me something quite valuable about my relationship and what roast chicken can represent: effort. I brainstormed with my husband the following morning and we came up with a new plan. Together, we’d tag-team the meal planning and grocery shopping. While he’d continue to do the bulk of the cooking since it comes more naturally to him and he really enjoys it, I would attempt to make one new meal every two weeks. It didn’t have to be roast chicken, but it would be an evening he could plan to have “off.” (He’d also step up with the cleaning—specifically, the volume of toddler laundry.)
Is this a truer partnership, at least as it applies to domesticity? Maybe. But more important, it’s a push to not fall into prescribed roles that eventually cause us to take each other for granted.
And if we get a good meal out of it, that’s just a bonus. (Meghan and Ina taught me that.)