If there's anything I'm a little self-conscious about when it comes to marriage, it's the fact that I'm not good at traditional "wifely duties." Sure, the feminist in me scoffs when old-timey movies and TV shows suggest that I'm supposed to wear an apron all day and make my husband breakfast before he leaves for work and spend my time cleaning and needle-pointing. The world has certainly changed and I don't believe any woman is chained to the kitchen and vacuum because she is a wife. But when women get together and make jokes about how men are so messy and we women are always cleaning up after them, I feel a pang of guilt.
Most of those stereotypes you hear about husbands who are lazy and messy and would rather rewear dirty socks than do laundry- that's me. Except I'm a woman that can wear flats when she runs out of socks, thank goodness. I don't do the laundry until I'm completely out of clothes and even then, I'll put it off until something comes up where I have to look decent. I'm very lucky to have married a clean freak because if it were up to me, my house would resemble the walk-in closet of my youth- the floor covered in everything I didn't want to put away when my mom told me to clean my room and hangers left empty on the rod.
The only reason I do dishes is because I love cooking and need clean dishes to cook, and even then, Josh is usually the one doing dishes while I use salad bowls to mix ingredients because my mixing bowls are dirty. And when I say I love to cook, this doesn't mean that I'm joyfully making fancy meals every night- this means that when I get an idea, I immediately start cooking and it may or may not turn out well, but when it comes to regular old meals on weekday evenings we're often throwing together some boring noodle dish or slinging grilled cheeses.
There are days when I have good intentions of baking up Josh's favorite muffins for his breakfast or having dinner ready when he gets home, but I'm usually working away on my computer until he walks in the door, surprising me that it's already that time of day. And when Josh has a rough day, I wish I were a "better wife" that would make his favorite meal and tell him to relax on the couch where I will rub his shoulders while the fancy chicken roasts in the oven. Instead I insist we go out to eat because our meatless, veggie-less, plain as porridge noodles aren't good enough to cheer him up and I'm terrible at giving shoulder rubs.
Before you go thinking that Josh set these expectations or asked for any of this, he hasn't. He has never once complained about the fact that I hate doing dishes or never get around to doing laundry. He believes he is the clean freak that doesn't even give me the chance to do it before he starts in (bless his heart). In fact, I've spent much of our marriage believing that his love language was likely "acts of service" because he is constantly serving me and loves having things clean and organized. But when we recently took the love language test together, I found that he would much prefer I give him a hug or spend time with him after a long day than have me slaving away in the kitchen for him.
But still the voices tell me I'm not being a very good wife.
Then I made this chicken and I realized I was one step closer to being the incredible wife that will likely only ever reside in my head. This chicken is where simple, delicious, and fancy all meet in the middle for an amazing meal I can throw together on any weeknight and make Josh question if he forgot it was some special occasion. When this chicken is roasting in the oven, we can't help but set the table nicely, light up a candle, and pour sparking cider into fancy glasses. It makes any old Tuesday night after a long day feel special. And it makes me feel like a better wife for making this simple night happen with just a few minutes of work and a little bit of thoughtfulness.
JAM & BUTTER ROASTED CHICKEN WITH CARROTS
PERFECT FOR: Fancy (but very simple) date nights at home
PAIR WITH: A flickering candle or two and glasses of your favorite sparkling drink or white wine
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp high-quality jam, flavor of your choice
-We like rhubarb, apricot, or seedless blackberry
-No Smuckers or off-brand jams allowed
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
-If your chicken legs are small, roast 4 legs and add an additional tablespoon of butter and jam to the mixture
3 large carrots, sliced into 1in chunks
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Use a spatula to cream together the butter and jam until somewhat smooth.
Place the chicken legs into a cast-iron skillet or baking dish. Carefully run your fingers under the chicken skin to separate it from the meat. Using a butter knife or your hands, take a tablespoon of the jam-butter and spread it underneath the skin, smoothing down the skin to evenly distribute. Repeat on the second leg. Distribute the carrots around the chicken legs, making sure the carrots are touching the bottom of the pan (otherwise they won't be soaking up the delicious juices). Spread the remainder of the butter mixture on top of the legs and carrots. Sprinkle with salt.
Roast in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the legs are golden, tops are browning, and the juices run clear. If you have a meat thermometer, make sure the chicken legs are 180F.
Serve the chicken and carrots while still warm.