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  • Writer's pictureL K

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken 3.03 Application Anxiety

Updated: Jun 7

“Ah, Darren, we should really get the chicken going.” “Right, right. You’re getting my famous chicken today – I hope you like chicken.” “Love it.”


For the balsamic strawberries

  • 1 lb strawberries, stems and green tops removed and thinly sliced

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ½ tsp pepper

  • 2 tbsps fresh basil, finely chopped plus more for garnish

  • 1/2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

For the chicken:

  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ½ tsp onion powder

  • ½ tsp chili powder

  • ½ tsp ground sage

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp dried rosemary

  • ¼ tsp pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, mint and basil. Put in the fridge and allow to marinate for about 20 minutes.

  3. Pat the chicken dry and set aside.

  4. In a small bowl combine all the spices for the chicken. Rub the seasoning mixture onto the chicken, making sure to get both sides.

  5. Place the seasoned chicken onto one half of a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

  6. Using tongs, flip the chicken after removing from the oven. Take the strawberries out of the fridge and place on the other half of the baking tray. Spread out evenly.

  7. Return the tray to the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

  8. Turn on your broiler and broil for about 2 minutes.

  9. Remove from the oven and serve with the strawberries on top of the chicken.

  10. Garnish with fresh basil ribbons and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Mix your balsamic strawberry mixture together then put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

In this episode, Lorelai and Rory visit Darren Springsteen, a Harvard alumnus, who makes them his famous chicken. We don’t get much information on how he prepares his chicken other than “he sticks a lemon up its butt.” However, I didn’t want to make a regular lemony chicken. That’s when I decided to take a page out of Bradley Bakes’ book. If you haven’t heard me talk about Brad before, let me tell you about this genius! He is a UK-based YouTuber who is currently cooking his way through the Harry Potter books. He recreates every food or drink mentioned in the series, including the potions. His account is actually what inspired me to cook my way through Gilmore Girls! Oftentimes when Brad makes a dish, he will make four variations with each flavor inspired by the Hogwarts houses. For example, he recently made four different crumpets for the Prisoner of Azkaban. He made raspberry for Gryffindor, blueberry for Ravenclaw, honey for Hufflepuff, and kiwi for Slytherin. So I decided to make some school pride chicken for Harvard.

The athletic teams at Harvard are the Harvard Crimson, so this meant I needed to make crimson chicken. I love the flavors of strawberry, balsamic, and basil, and I thought they would pair well with chicken. While chicken oftentimes gets a bad rap for being flavorless, I made sure that this chicken was full of flavor. I used chicken thighs because they hold more flavor, but if you prefer to use chicken breast, you totally can. Just be careful because Jack and Jennifer like to fight over the chicken breast…

I used a variety of spices to make the chicken flavorful.

I’m going to have a lot to talk about with this episode. If you didn’t know, I work as a college counselor, so this one (and many of the other college application episodes) is very interesting to me. There are things about the college process that they get right and things they get really wrong about it. I will start by saying that the college application process is always changing and evolving. It looks different than when I applied to college, than when I started this job, and especially over the past year in light of the pandemic. But there are some things that have always been true that this show gets wrong.

For starters, it really annoys me that Rory is only applying to ivy leagues. And though we don’t see this as much until Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving, it infuriates me how Lorelai wants Rory to ONLY apply to Harvard. I’m sorry, but no one is only applying to Harvard. And no one is only applying to ivy leagues. They are some of the most competitive colleges in the country, even back in 2003. With my experience and expertise in this field, I find it hard to believe that Rory would get into Harvard, let alone any ivy league, but more on that when I discuss The Big One. Rory should absolutely have more colleges on her list, including some target schools and definitely some safety schools. I never want a student to undermatch with the college they attend, but Rory shouldn’t be applying to just reach schools.

After your chicken has baked for 10-12 minutes, flip it over.

Rory and Lorelai sit down to start filling out her application, which is on paper. Can I just say that I’m so grateful that I don’t have to do this job with paper applications. It was already difficult to do this job completely virtual during the pandemic, so I can’t imagine having to do paper applications. Rory decides she’s going to check off that she’s interested in every activity except for sports. This is exactly what we tell students NOT to do when they fill out their applications.

The only activities that Rory has been involved in are the paper and student council for one year. She volunteers at the Independence Inn, which she could include as an activity on her application, but the only leadership she’s had is being student body Vice President. Rory really doesn’t have much going for her to make herself stand out on her applications. Later in the episode, Rory decides to narrow her interest in travel. Now, from what we’ve seen on the show, the only trips Rory has been on were the road trip to Boston in season 2, a day trip to New York (which she’s been to a couple of times), and a summer in D.C. Technically, she could have been on more trips before the show starts, but I highly doubt Lorelai would have been able to afford to take Rory on trips. For someone who hasn’t really traveled, that seems like an odd interest to focus your application on.

Add your strawberries to the baking sheet in an even layer.

Then we get to the essay. Rory really wants to write her essay on Hillary Clinton (which is still topical to this day). But after the admissions panel claims this essay lacks originality, she changes her mind. For a school like Harvard (or Yale), Hillary Clinton is probably not that original of an essay topic. For someone who reads as much as Rory, I think there are so many other people she could have chosen to write her essay on. Personally, I think she should have written about growing up in Stars Hollow. It’s such a unique town, and she could write about the life lessons she’s learned from the different townies and how they’ve shaped her as a person. She also could expand on her piece about the paving of the faculty parking lot and how everybody and everything eventually becomes obsolete, though that does seem to have a negative connotation.

Though I understand the panic with both Rory and Lorelai in this episode, hence the title, I think a big part of their anxiety comes from Harvard being Rory’s only college choice practically her whole life. She claims to Carol that she’s not on the conveyor belt. And while she’s not on the conveyor belt in the same way as the Springsteen children, I do think Rory is on one in some way. As we see later on in this season, Lorelai is so against Rory going to any other school besides Harvard, and that doesn’t put Rory in any position to succeed.

I also want to talk about the character we get to meet in this episode, one of my favorites: Dave Rygalski! I personally think he’s the best of the Gilmore boyfriends, and I hate that his time on the show is so short-lived. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive the OC for taking Adam Brody. He supports Lane and truly understands her relationship with Mrs. Kim. I would have liked to have seen how their storyline would play out over the run of the show. And I also wish that Lane and Zach ended up divorced and that she got back together with Dave in A Year in the Life. One could only dream.

Happy Cooking in the Hollow!

Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and you're good to go!

If you missed what I made last episode, catch up here!

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