Lemon chicken + mashed potatoes…and intersecting dreams.

Have you ever had that feeling that various parts of your life have intersected perfectly?

A few days ago I experienced this.

Years ago, when I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I used to sit in the front row of the Brattle Street movie theatre with my then boyfriend watching movies and munching on popcorn.

A few nights ago I sat in the back row of the same theatre with a friend who’s a movie producer, along with his friends and family, to watch the premier of Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself. I couldn’t help but look at the front row and think back to the past, back to my younger self who had so many dreams involving books and movies and other big things.

As I was watching the movie (to read about the amazing man that is George Plimpton, click here), I was so taken by George Plimpton…his absolute gusto for life. George, who founded the literary magazine The Paris Review, was larger than life and followed—and lived—his dreams.

My dreams from back then may have changed a bit, but they still exist—and new ones have formed.

What is life if we can’t dream big?

I remember the old boyfriend with whom I watched hundreds of movies, made me stationery that said (pretentiously), “cineaste,” because I had this idea in my head that I wanted to be involved in movies.

It was an interesting juxtaposition to see my old dreamy self in the front row and my current (still dreaming) self in the back row with people who love (and make movies) and thinking of my current dreams—plus my best creation thus far: the little pumpkin I had four years ago.

So how does all this lead to lemon chicken + mashed potatoes? Earlier that day, I’d cooked lunch for my family and while at the movie I realized so many dreams have come true, that various parts of my life are intersecting the way I’d dreamt they would. And I have faith the new ones will, too.

Lemon chicken
Serves 8-10
This recipe is adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman, founder and editor of Cookstr.com. I met Katie recently at a cooking demo with chef Marco Canora. Katie’s book, The Mom 100 Cookbook, is filled with tons of family-friendly recipes. Since I was out of town for the weekend, I figured I’d make this chicken recipe for my parents, sister and our kids. Katie had adapted the recipe from Rao’s, which is an old-school Italian restaurant up in Harlem. Apparently it’s one of the most popular dishes there, and now it’s going to be popular in my kitchen, too.

Oh, and be sure to pour some lemon sauce over the mashed potatoes. You’ll thank me later!

1 cup of fresh lemon juice (from 4 to 6 lemons)
2/3 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon of dried oregano or thyme
Coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 bone-in chicken breast halves with skin (2-2 1/2 pounds)
6 bone-in chicken thighs with skin (2 1/2 – 3 pounds)
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Preheat the broiler with the rack placed about 8 inches away from the heat source.

Put the lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano or thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a container with a lid and shake well to blend.

Place the chicken pieces skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet and salt them lightly. Broil for 15 minutes. Turn the pieces, lightly salt them, and broil them until the skin is crisp and golden brown and the juices run clear when the pieces are pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Remove the chicken from the broiler, leaving the broiler on. Cut the breast and thighs in half, if necessary (I’d bought them already cut). Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat.

Shake the lemon sauce again and pour it over the chicken. Turn the pieces over so they are evenly coated with the sauce, making sure all of the pieces end up skin side down.

Broil the chicken until it has browned a bit more, another 2 minutes, then turn the pieces skin side up and broil them until the skin is browned a bit more, about 3 minutes longer. Remove the chicken from the baking sheet, and if you’re using parsley, stir it in the sauce still in the baking sheet. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Mashed potatoes
I make mashed potatoes by taste and I suggest you do the same. For our Sunday lunch, I peeled (thank you to my sister) and boiled about 12 potatoes. Once I drained those, I added 2 sticks of butter, about 1/2 cup of milk (and a bit more as I mashed them). I mashed the potatoes using my sister’s old-fashioned masher. The result was lumpy potatoes, just the way we like them.

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