Heart-Pounded Chicken

Damn you, St. Valentine. Wasn’t it explicitly understood that Roman soldiers couldn’t marry? Didn’t Claudius II publicly declare that he would execute any priest who brazenly defied his rule? But you succumbed to impropriety, snubbed your nose at the Emperor and married soldiers anyway. One word for you: stupid. Make no mistake, I’m happy that you achieved martyrdom status. Congratulations. But because of you, humankind, and more specifically mankind, must weather a holiday on which they must lavish their betrotheds with gifts, dinners and love if they intend to keep their relationships intact. I don’t know if you can see my hand gesture up there, but it’s not complimentary.

Take this year’s Valentine’s Day, for example. I refused to endure another Valentine’s dinner at an expensive restaurant, surrounded by other awkward couples and gastronomically hand-tied by a pre-arranged menu. My girlfriend, Ashley, agreed on the condition that I make her dinner. “Yeah, let’s fly to Maui while we’re at it,” I said, laughing hard and long. But my guffaws soon turned into nervous giggles when Ashley said, “My brother is flying his girlfriend to Maui. Making me dinner is the least you can do.” Silence. More impregnated silence. “How about we order in? You like that new pizza place,” I suggested. Ashley huffed away, and after days of scathing remarks and cold glances, I resolved to cook Ashley dinner. While scouring recipe websites and driving to the market, I repeatedly said, “Damn you, St. Valentine.”

I’ve cooked once or twice. I think both instances were chocolate chip cookies. The directions were simple: place pre-made cookie dough onto buttered cookie sheet, bake for twenty minutes, bon appetite. To say the least, I’m rather untested in the kitchen. I wanted to find a recipe that demanded effort but was also simple and wouldn’t result in dismemberment. Great Grub’s Hand-pounded lemon chicken seemed perfect. I can squeeze lemons, I can whack chicken with my hands, and I can even smash garlic. After buying my ingredients, I hurried home, eager to impress and awe and tantalize with my newfound culinary brilliance.

One miscalculation deterred an otherwise seamless meal preparation; I neglected to read that the chicken should marinate for two to nine hours. Since it was already nearing eight o’clock, I concluded that marinating the meat for an hour would suffice. I didn’t want to present and plate my superb Valentine’s Day dinner after midnight, in which case Ashley would indubitably say, “But it’s not Valentine’s Day anymore. It’s February 15th.”

An hour and a half later, around ten o’clock, to be exact, we sat down to eat. I also made Great Grub’s Blue Moon Rocket Salad, and proudly mentioned that I toasted pecans in clarified butter and brown sugar. She didn’t reply because she was stuffing her mouth in ecstasy. Across the table, I uncorked a bottle of red wine and happily sniffed its fruity bouquet. “Wow, Pat, you can cook like a champion,” Ashley said. My thoughts exactly. Thank you, St. Valentine.

Re: Heart-Pounded Chicken

I lay awake last night sweating. I wanted to write a response to you that was worthy. Anyways, I failed and now I am plain tired. So this is the best I can manage…

This story is great… hysterically funny and really well written. Thanks.

Re: Heart-Pounded Chicken