While some people prefer white meat, dark meat -- the thigh and drumstick -- have more flavor. The leg quarter stands up better to longer cooking, such as in a stew or curry, than a chicken breast. Chicken leg quarters are generally less expensive than chicken breasts, too. Change the seasonings and you create a brand new dish.
Marinades and More
Marinades add flavor to chicken leg quarters and also tenderize them, depending on the marinade. A Southern standby is buttermilk. Other options include fruit juice -- choose from orange, pineapple, lime or cranberry juice. Toss in some herbs. Chicken goes well with the classic combinations of chervil and tarragon or try rosemary and garlic. Marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator or overnight. Discard the marinade after use.
Get Under the Skin
Crispy chicken skin is a treat but sometimes the skin gets all of the flavor. Separate the skin from the chicken leg with your fingers. Pull it down but not off. Season the meat with a compound butter. Mash your choice of chopped scallions, onions or shallots with fresh parsley, sage and a dash of fruit juice -- lemon works well -- into soft butter. Blend well then spread over the meat of the chicken leg underneath the skin. Another option is to slice fruits thinly and tuck them under the skin. Try lemon, lime, grapefruit, apples, or and peaches. Pull the skin back over the chicken quarter.
Crisp, crunchy coatings fill the dual role of keeping the chicken leg quarter moist and seasoning the meat. Instead of classic breadcrumbs, choose from crushed potato chips -- try barbecue or ranch flavor -- corn chips, nuts or shredded coconut. Add a handful of dried herbs to the coating. The trick is getting the coating to adhere to the chicken. Dipping the leg quarter in egg whites, beaten eggs, milk or buttermilk and then into the coating works.
Rub It In
Rubs include dried herbs, spices, dried onion and garlic and sugar. Try paprika, red pepper flakes and cumin for a Mexican flavor. Italians would favor basil, fennel seeds and oregano. The French are partial to rosemary, garlic and lemon zest. Pat the rub all over the leg quarter.
Sauce it Up
Cream of mushroom soup, rice and chicken leg quarters form a classic casserole combination. Riff on that seasoning method by using commercial sauces, salad dressings or preparing your own sauce. Browning the chicken before cooking in sauce adds color and flavor. Bake the chicken with a rub or coating and then sauce after the chicken is done for a double dose of seasoning.
- The Art of Cooking; Arnold Zabert
- Bon Appetit: Chicken Legs
- Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images