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All We Can Eat
Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 05/10/2012

The chicken that flew from Chicago to Capitol Hill

Could this chicken contribute to the well-being of today’s youth? (Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)
High school students from the Chicago Vocational Career Academy got to serve samples of their oven “fried” chicken on Capitol Hill this afternoon — an award-winning example of the healthful food that Chicago’s public-school elementary and secondary students have been enjoying since November 2011.

They’re here because they won a national recipe competition called Cooking Up Change, sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign, which advocates for healthy school environments nationwide. In Chicago alone, 1.2 million pounds of locally sourced, antibiotic-free chicken have been consumed at 473 of the city’s more than 675 public schools during this academic year. Chicago’s is the third-largest school system in the country.

“We are beaming with joy for these smart young men and women,” Annie Lionberger, manager of health and wellness promotion, Chicago Public Schools, said in a news release. “I have been lucky enough to dine on this delicious meal, so I know our Cavaliers of CVCA will continue to make us proud.”

The meal she referred to costs about $1 per serving to make for Chicago public school students: oven “fried” chicken, greens and sweet potato salad. It was featured on today’s menu in the House Office Building’s Longworth cafeteria.

In the same news release, Healthy Schools Campaign founder Rochelle Davis said that Cooking Up Change students learn about healthful eating while working within a tight budget. They come to understand how “some farming practices affect the public’s health and how we as consumers can encourage poultry producers to use antibiotics responsibly,” she said.

Others involved in the day’s events include the Pew Health Group, School Food Focus, Chartwells School Dining Services and Thompson Hospitality (the latter two provide food services to a majority of D.C. public schools). The afternoon briefing was hosted by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

With kids, of course, it all comes down to matters of taste. So we tested the chicken recipe, which you can find after the jump.

Chicago Vocational Career Academy students Jerome Sims, far left, Kalia Hunter and Sheanice Dishmon wait for feedback during a morning practice session. (Cooking for Change)
Overall, we give it 1 1/2 thumbs up. It’s easy to prepare and the balance of seasoning is kid-friendly. Straight out of the oven, the drumsticks have just enough crunch to satisfy fried-chicken expectations. The amount of crushed Rice Krispies doesn’t make much of a statement (we might add another 1/4 cup or so); and the flour coating on the underside might develop a roasted-flour sogginess unless you turn the drumsticks over halfway through the oven time (which we’ve also suggested in the recipe below).

Oven “Fried” Chicken

Makes 8 drumsticks

(Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)
Adapted from the student team of Chicago Vocational Career Academy, who won first place in a national competition called Cooking Up Change, which is part of the Healthy Schools Campaign, an independent nonprofit organization.


2 cups flour

1/4 cup Rice Krispies cereal, crushed

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

8 skin-on chicken drumsticks, preferably antibiotic-free (about 2 3/4 pounds total)


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking olive oil spray.

Combine the flour, crushed Rice Krispies, Cajun and poultry seasonings, pepper, paprika and garlic powder in a large resealable plastic food bag; seal and shake to mix well.

Open the bag. Add four drumsticks at a time and seal; shake to coat them evenly, then place them on the baking sheet, shaking off any excess coating as you lift them out. Repeat with the remaining drumsticks.

Because this next step makes a bit of a mess, open the dishwasher and place the baking sheet on the flat surface of the door, or place the baking sheet over the sink. Lightly spray the chicken with the nonstick cooking olive oil spray. Some of the coating may fly up; if the chicken looks bare in spots, lightly sprinkle with some of the leftover coating in the bag. Discard any remaining coating.

Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the drumsticks over halfway through, if desired, or until the internal temperature of the meat (inserted away from the bone) registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. The chicken will be lightly browned.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

By  |  02:00 PM ET, 05/10/2012

Categories:  Recipes | Tags:  Bonnie S. Benwick

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