Life / Food

Feed dad some picnic chicken

Crispy coated legs, pre-cut veggies will do the trick

Cornmeal-crusted chicken legs are an easy choice to pack for a Father's Day picnic this weekend.

Picnics are a family tradition for Eric Akis, his wife Cheryl Warwick and their 17-year-old son Tyler. In fact, any excuse is a splendid reason for this trio to pack up a cooler and head to the beach - any time of the year.

For Father's Day, they plan the traditional outing, but this time Tyler and his mom, a pastry chef, will be preparing the feast so that Akis, a chef and writer in Victoria, B.C., can just relax.

Here are several of Tyler's suggestions:

  • Crispy coated chicken legs: The picnic-friendly food can be "baked a day before and chilled well," Akis says.
  • Mediterranean-style sandwiches: "... the meat is cured, the cheese is aged and it could be spread with a basil pesto and served in a pita bread, on multi-grain artisanal bread or into wraps."
  • An Asian noodle salad will match the chicken, and for drinks, homemade iced tea and lemonade.
  • For dessert, check out the date squares recipe below.

When it comes to packing the picnic, "give the kids the responsibility, especially on Father's Day" - mom can supervise.

Also, "it's homegrown fresh strawberry season, so pack some with fruit yogurt for dipping," he says, "or pack pre-cut veggies like broccoli, cherry tomatoes, carrots and some ranch dressing as a dip." Just pack them in plastic containers and keep them cool.

Canadian Press

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Legs


  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) cornmeal
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) breadcrumbs
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 large chicken legs, cut into leg and thigh pieces
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) Dijon mustard
  • 30 to 45 ml (2 to 3 tbsp) liquid honey, warmed slightly


  • Preheat oven to 205 C (400 F).

  • In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal, breadcrumbs, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste.

  • Brush chicken all over with mustard. Place chicken in crust mixture and pat mixture onto chicken to coat it on all sides. Set on a baking sheet, skin side down, and bake for 20 minutes.

    Turn pieces over; bake for 15 minutes. Drizzle top of chicken with honey and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until cooked through.

  • For more crunch, replace breadcrumbs with finely crushed cornflakes. For fewer calories, remove skin from chicken before coating. Serves 4.

    Source: Everyone Can Cook, by Eric Akis (Whitecap)/CP

    Best-Ever Date Squares


    • 500 ml (2 cups) packed chopped pitted dates
    • 250 ml (1 cup) cold coffee
    • 30 ml (2 tbsp) packed brown sugar
    • Grated rind and juice of half an orange
    • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon juice


    • 300 ml (1-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
    • 5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder
    • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) baking soda
    • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
    • 150 ml (2/3 cup) butter
    • 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) rolled oats
    • 175 ml (3/4 cup) lightly packed brown sugar


  • In a small saucepan, combine dates, coffee, brown sugar and orange rind; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until soft enough to mash and consistency of jam (runny, but easy to spread), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in orange and lemon juices. Let cool.

  • Crumb Mixture: In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until size of small peas. Stir in rolled oats and sugar.

  • Press half of crumb mixture firmly into lightly greased 2.5-l (9-in.) square cake pan. Spread date mixture evenly over crumb mixture. Top with remaining crumbs, pressing lightly. Bake in 160 C (325 F) oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool in pan. Cut into squares. Makes 25 squares.┬áSource: Smart Cooking:

    Source: 10th Anniversary Edition, by Anne Lindsay (Macmillan Canada)/CP

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