Sunday, September 30, 2007

How to Grill the Perfect Chicken Leg Quarter

Getting a “Leg Up” on the Competition

(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.

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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.” Logo


AeRoSpaceman said...

Do you keep the skin on or take it off??

gavin_conway said...

I think its best to leave it on while cooking and then peel it off when you are eating it.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for me, successful grilling of ANYTHING is always a crapshoot. In step #4 you state, "...with the lid open...have an internal temperature of 325-350 degrees." How do you maintain a temperature range if the lid is open?

The one.... said...

I totally followed these instructions except i closed the lid in step # 4. Also I turned off the last burner and left the three others on and moved the chicken to the last burner that was off. They came out beautifully. Thank you!

Andy said...

I love this recipe, the skin comes out perfectly golden and my family loves it every time I make it.

Andy said...

I love this recipe, the skin comes out perfectly golden and my family loves it every time I make it.

Anonymous said...

I am most impressed by the fact that you used correct pronouns in your introductory paragraph. So many people would have written "helped my wife and I move in..."

Anonymous said...

This is the second time i have used this recipe and it came out perfect both times. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Excellent... had the chicken with grilled stuffed jalapenos and corn. YAY!

Anonymous said...

Great recipe, the chicken turned out very tasty and moist on the grill following the directions.

Ray said...

I used this receipe and the only thing that I did differently was add pasley flakes and baste it with sweet baby rays bbq sause and it tasted awesome. The girlfriend says it tasted very good. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey great and easy recipe. Thanks for posting it. The first six minutes seem to work.

Mike said...

I kinda did what your dad did. I had the grill on low, all 4 burners. I loaded up the bbq with chicken thighs and walked away for no more than 5 minutes and the grill went up in flames. The smoke coming out of the back discolored the side of my house. My friends have yet to let me live it down.. Just followed your directions, good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Don't know what I did wrong but an hour and a half later the chicken is still raw!

Anonymous said...

The Directions were perfect. The chicken tasted great and the family loved it!

Bob said...

I just did it tonight and the chicken turned out perfect!

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Anonymous said...

The skin is the tastiest part!

Anonymous said...

It's totally like poopoopeepeefarts n stuff. Chicken makes nice poops. Comes out meaty and clean ya kno? Only a 1 wiper, but I always wipe twice just to make sure I didn't just miss the hole. Itchy booty is noooooo thing to take lightly. So always inspect your toilet paper once u drag it thru your buttcrack. ;) said...

Thanks for the the directions!

I did ok my 1st time... I had the temp too high for the initial and cause some blackness on the skin, however, the meat was excellent!

Thanks! said...

Thanks for the the directions!

I did ok my 1st time... I had the temp too high for the initial and cause some blackness on the skin, however, the meat was excellent!


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Sweet baby rays is the best .. next time you grill pork chops use raspberry chipotle best chops ever

Anonymous said...

had my doubts but worked great, in spite of me

Anonymous said...

Was still too pink inside for my family. Put in oven extra 20 min after grilling for one hour. Still moist.

Anonymous said...

Was the chicked comoletely thawed before you started cooking?

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Anonymous said...

that is no fair everyone knows you have to take the skin off. a true challenge is cooking chicken leg quarters that is skin less on a grill. at this moment I have chicken leg quarters on the grill that is at 200 degrees. I'm expecting it to take 2 full hours.

Sarah said...

Um, the grammar accolade was NOT sarcastic. "...helped my wife and me" is actually correct. Check before you slam someone's friendly comment, eh?

Anonymous said...

I left it on extra few mins but came out greeeeat

Anonymous said...


Brenda said...

Excellent. Came out perfect. I had to cook a few extra minutes but the thermometer was my guide. Perfectly juicy and golden. Best recipe I've ever used for chicken quarters on the grill. Thanks!

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Anonymous said...

First time trying this recipe.. made 3 legs, 2 turned out perfect, ofcourse the one i decided to eat was still bloody on the inside :( lol just my luck!! I also cooked my chicken based on this recipe but it took 1 and a half hrs to cook 2 of them fully.

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Getting ready to throw some leg quarters on the grill. Thanks for the directions! Half of them have been soaking in fat free Italian salad dressing, the other in a 50-50 mix of Scotts and Sam Dillard's bbq sauces for 5 days.

Awesome flavor!

Sonja Prusa said...


smoky1953 said...

You didn't say whether you turned the chicken after awhile or not. I'm assuming you did.

Anonymous said...

just finished cooking leg quarters this way. Used a gas grill, and everything turned out delicious. thank you for this information

Dean Lusk said...

I echo everyone's thanks. I didn't create charred messes on Mothers Day!

I turned the meat at 15-minute intervals, then five-minute intervals. Absolutely perfect. Thank you!

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Nothing like misquite coals to cook chicken. Put them around the edge of the coals, not directly over. 1 hour and fifteen minutes later, you'll have the tastiest, juiciest, fall off the bone chicken. Oh, no turning over, just set it and forget it. Texas style!

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