Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing

For some reason my DVR has stopped recording Cook’s Country episodes, so I went online a few days ago I saw this recipe for grilled chicken quarters; a perfect match for the beautiful June weather. I also love this recipe because it doesn’t require me to separate the thigh from the leg; but the downside is that it is a little more difficult to eat as one big piece. Most of the preparation takes place the night before; making a flavorful paste and preparing the chicken. It’s best to leave let it marinate overnight; allowing time for the bright flavors to work their way deep into the chicken (Chris Kimball says a minimum of 1 hour). The chicken was very flavorful and bright. 5-star, for its simplicity, ease of preparation and it’s fullness of flavor.

Delicous 5-star meal

Delicious 5-star meal

My house it 90 years old without central air conditioning, so at this time of year, I love keeping the heat of cooking is outside. My kitchen (and my whole house) stays much cooler.


  1. The original recipe says to reserve just the 2 teaspoons of paste for up to 24 hours. Instead, I added the olive oil in Step 1 (instead of Step 8). I think it preserved the paste from oxidizing and gave more time for the flavors to permeate the olive oil.
  2. The sauce was perhaps a little salty. The original recipe calls for 4 teaspoons kosher salt, but next time I will try it with only 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
  3. I with their was a little extra sauce, to eat with my bread and potatoes.
  4. If you plan to make this on a gas grill, pre-heat by turning all your burners on high. Cover, and allow to heat up for 15 minutes, before cleaning and oiling. To cook turn down the primary burner to medium, and reduce the other burners to low. Adjust the primary burner as necessary to maintain a grill temperature of between 400 to 425 degrees.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $6.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

4 chicken leg quarters (about 3-pounds)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (1 teaspoon of dried oregano)

  1. Peel garlic cloves. Mince garlic or press into a small bowl. Add kosher salt, sugar, lime zest, 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne; mix to form a paste. Set aside 2 teaspoons of garlic paste in a small bowl (I re-used the same small bowl), whisking together 1/4 cup of olive cup oil, lime juice, which you will use in Step 8 to make the dressing.
  2. Leaving drumsticks attached to thighs, trim away and extra skin and fat, pat dry using paper towels. Arrange on a cutting board with the skin-side up. Make 4 deep, parallel, diagonal cuts into each leg quarter: 1 across drumstick, 1 across joint, and 2 across the thighs. Each cut should reach the bone. Flip the chicken over and make 1 diagonal slash across the back of the drumstick.
  3. Rub paste from Step 1 into chicken, and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for between 1 and 24 hours.
  4. Completely open up the top and bottom vents of your charcoal grill, and ignite a chimney start willed with 6 quarts of charcoal. Allow to ignite for 20 minutes until the top-most coals are partially covered with fine gray ash. Create a 2-level fire, by emptying two-thirds of coals over one half of the grill, and the remaining one-third of coal on the other half.
  5. Put the cooking grate in place, cover and pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean the grill, and dip paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe.
  6. Arrange chicken with the skin-side upward on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and allow to brown for 9 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover, and continue to cook for 7 to 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees.
  7. Without flipping (skin-side still down) slide the chicken to the hotter side of the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin becomes nicely brown. Flip chicken and cook for about 3 more minutes; until the chicken, measured at the leg joint, becomes 175-degrees. As the prices come up to temperature, remove them to a serving platter and tent them with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, finish preparing the sauce by chopping 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro and
    2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano. Add into the bowl and mix. Pour half the dressing over the chicken and pass the remaining dressing separately.


5 Responses to Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing

  1. Diane says:

    I think Cook’s Country and ATK uses Diamond brand kosher salt, which is less salty than Morton when measuring by volume, so if you used Morton, that might be the reason. When you rate a dish 5-star, I know it’s worth trying!

    • Hi Diane,

      I used Diamond brand kosher salt too. I made this recipe for a second time a few days ago (leg quarters were on sales for 69-cents/lb), reducing the salt, and personally liked using 1 tablespoon is better. Just a small tweak; overall the best meal I have made this year.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Mark,

    Love your blog!

    When cooking chicken, do you use “regular” supermarket birds such as Perdue or Tyson, or do you use ATK’s favorite, Bell and Evans?


    • Hi Lynnette,

      Unfortunately I am a single father with two teen-aged boys (plus an ex-wife) to support, haha, so I can only afford regular super market chickens.

      Generally, though, I think Chris Kimball’s recipes have enough other ingredients where the difference is not so noticeable. For example, a simple grilled steak has no other flavors to hide behind, but these chicken quarters have lots of other flavors to make up for the lackluster flavors of supermarket chickens.


      P.S. When I do make a simple steak, I use his dry-aging technique to make up for the supermarket cows.

  3. Rob says:

    My drumsticks turned out chewy. I’ve read that they should be cooked slow st a low temperature to breakdown connective tissue. Did you run into this?

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