(I must preface this by saying that the following is a recounting of an actual event.)
I can remember my first grilling experience on my own grill just like it was yesterday. My family had helped my wife and me move into our first home some years ago. My dad and I put my gas grill together, but what good is a grill if there's nothing to grill? So off to the store we go and came back with chicken leg quarters.
My dad said he was going to show me how simple it was to grill. He proceeded to light up the grill, cranking it on high, and then chucked the chicken inside and put the lid down. “It's just like an oven,” he says.
We then headed back inside the house leaving the chicken quarters in a cranked-on-high gas grill with the lid shut.
About twenty minutes later my wife tells me that black smoke is coming from the grill. So I run outside, followed by my dad, only to see fire coming from under the lid. Indeed black smoke was belching out from under the lid.
Once the fire had been extinguished and the severely charred remains of the leg quarters were removed from the grill, my dad grabs one of these partially incinerated chicken parts and takes a very, umm, “crunchy bite.” Smiling he says, “These aren’t too bad,” as the black char was blotting out his teeth and gums.
My wife gives me “that look” and seconds later I was on the phone ordering pizza for delivery. (I should have captured it all on video.)
Despite my true story introduction, grilling chicken is easy. One just has to keep a few simple things in mind, like:
• Chicken parts render off a lot of fat.
• Grills cranked on high will probably easily reach 450 degrees.
• Fat and very high heat will produce lots of fire. This is not considered, “good eats.”
• Chicken leg quarters are an excellent choice for grilling due to the higher fat content than chicken breast, giving you a juicier and more flavorful meal.
• They are more cost effective and can be substituted for chicken breast in any recipe.
• Certain care is required though, to prevent my first grilling experience from becoming yours.
Maverick Industries, Inc. Redi-Check Remote Cooking Thermometer and Timer
Chicken Leg Quarter – 1 leg quarter
Olive Oil – extra virgin
Kosher Salt – about ¼ quarter teaspoon
Black Pepper – about ¼ quarter teaspoon
How To Make It:
1. Prepare the grill for medium heat. It would be wise to use a thermometer to get a reading of 325-350 degrees.
2. If you are using a gas grill, only turn on one side of the grill burners. If you are using a charcoal grill, mound up the coals on one side. The reason for this is because you will be incorporating both direct (meat over the heat source) and indirect (meat away from heat source) cooking techniques.
3. Brush both sides of the chicken leg quarters with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.
4. Place the chicken directly over the heat and grill with the lid open for about 3 minutes per side. (It doesn't make a difference which grill you are using here as long as you have an internal temperature of 325-350 degrees.)
5. Move the chicken to the other side of the grill (away from the heat source) and grill with the grill lid down for about 45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the chicken leg quarter registers 170 degrees.
Although salmonella, a bacterium that causes food poisoning, is instantly killed at 165 degrees, chicken still has a slight pink color at that temperature and most people are hesitant to eat chicken that is pink. Therefore, 170 degrees is what I recommend.
(On a side note: if you prefer to cook legs or thighs, use the same techniques described above. Just reduce the covered grilling time to about 30 to 35 minutes or until a thermometer registers 170 degrees.)
6. Once this is accomplished, your chicken has just been grilled to perfection. Now there's just one more step to take and that is,
7. Bring in the chicken, serve it to the awaiting fortunate recipient(s) and bring on the accolades.
And that's, “How to Grill the Perfect Chicken Leg Quarter.”