Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Favorite Baked Chicken Leg Quarters

Note how the meat of the lower leg has pulled away from the bone.
That means it's done. It's important to baste the last 25 minutes
to achieve this golden, brown skin. And you want just a bit
of that blackened spiced mixture.

(Update, June 13, 2012: Wow, I'm glad to see this as one of my top recipes! I make it all the time and hope you enjoy them as much as I do!)

I snagged a five-pound bag of chicken leg quarters at my grocery store on sale for only 2.99! That's a whole lot of eating for little money. And it's a brand I like. The quarters are both meaty and juicy.

You'll need a garlic press for this recipe. You want your garlic to be a "paste." Why? Well, when garlic is a paste, it's not apt to burn the way minced garlic will. If you don't have a press, simply mince your garlic fine and then put the salt on it and, using the broad side of a knife knead it back and forth, working the salt into the garlic until a paste is formed. Or just use a mortar and pestle.

I gnaw these babies to the bone and lick my lips!

  • 2 leg quarters
  • 2 large cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon Old Bay's Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1-2 tablespoons (about) dry white wine

Pre-heat oven to 375 F. degrees

Remove any excess fat from leg quarters and rinse well under cool water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place in a shallow baking dish. I prefer metal.

In a small bowl mix the garlic, thyme, Old Bay's, salt, cumin, Tabasco, and several good grinds of fresh pepper. Add olive oil a teaspoon at a time. Using the back of a spoon, mash all the ingredients together to kind of form a paste. Taste. The garlic flavor should be in the forefront along with some heat.

Coat the chicken evenly with the spice mixture.

Place pan in oven and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. Raise the temperature to about 425. Splash in two tablespoons dry, white wine into pan and one tablespoon butter. Swirl it around a bit to mix with the juices. When butter is melted, baste the leg quarters with the "sauce." Return to oven and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes, basting several times. Basting is important to get that golden-crisp skin. I leave in oven for ten minutes then baste. After that, I baste two more times every five minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to rest 20 minutes before serving. I find I enjoy these much more after sitting for 20 minutes or so. Just out of the oven, they're too hot to handle. I like to be able to pick one up and bite into it to get a  mouthful of crispy skin and juicy meat.

Chicken quarters should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165-170 F degrees. Because they contain much cartilage and fat, they are forgiving if you cook them longer. 

Notes: If your legs quarters are on the small side, reduce cooking time by several minutes. Try to cook leg quarters that are about all the same size. I've also done this with just thighs.