A few weeks ago, Publix had some incredibly good deals on chicken leg quarters. So naturally, we filled our freezer. I know some of you will recoil in horror at the thought of eating-gasp- DARK MEAT, but bear with me.
First off, because of the demand for breast meat, poultry legs of any kind are a great value. They are always priced lower than breasts. The legs have more flavor, more nutritional value, and are easier to cook. They don't dry out as easily as breast meat does.
I first started cooking with chicken thighs when we got married. I'd grown up in a white meat family. My husband, though, was a dark meat guy. At Thanksgiving, he quickly claimed both legs for himself and ignored the rest of the turkey. I was also working part time and going to school full time, so I was beginning my love affair with the Crockpot. I learned pretty fast that thighs stood up to braising better than breasts, and that it saved us money, and that if I made them, my husband would be happy. So over time, I have grown to appreciate dark meat and actually do prefer it now.
I love chicken quarters in particular because of the beautiful way they present. Really, what could be prettier on your plate than an elegantly bent leg, covered in a brown and crackling skin, and surrounded by rice or couscous to soak up the tasty pan drippings? Not a whole lot, right?
I managed to get a few pictures of some of the things I've done with all the leg quarters I've collected before my camera died. One of them is the pretty picture gracing the top of this post. It's roasted chicken on a bed of mixed potato wedges. It's a very simple thing to do. Cut the white and sweet potatoes into wedges, toss with your choice of seasoning, and olive oil. I also add big cloves of garlic and chunks of onion. Place the chicken quarters on top, rub with a little oil, then season. I used Green Street Grill Rub from the Alpharetta Spice Company on these. Roast them at 350 until done.
This one is my easy Coq au Vin recipe. Coq au Vin is another marvelous invention of the French peasants, created to make an old rooster past his prime into a tasty treat. My version doesn't rely quite so much on stewing, but is still rich and satisfying.
First, fry up some bacon bits. I do this by cutting my bacon into bits, then frying. Once they are brown, pull out the bits and drain them. Liberally salt and pepper your chicken legs. Place them skin side down in the pan, and let them brown. You aren't trying to cook them all the way through, just get the skin brown. After they reach satisfactory brownness, flip them over and brown the other side. Remove from pan. I put mine into a big casserole dish, which I intended to cook the final dish in.
Deglaze the pan with a decent quality red wine. I can't recall what I used here. Probably a Three Buck Chuck Pinot Noir, or Merlot. We tend to have that lying around. Add chopped carrots and onions. Use the veggies to scrap up the brown bits of bacon and chicken stuck to the bottom of the pan. You want those in your final product. After the veggies are softened, pour them over the chicken legs. Lid it up, and put it in the oven. Cook it on 350 until done.
I served this alongside some egg noodles, because those are awesome with the red wine sauce.