About a month ago I made these 5-star Grilled Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing. They were easy to make and had amazing flavor. The only drawback was that the bone-in chicken was a little difficult to eat. Then I remembered back to last Thanksgiving’s deconstructed turkey thighs about how deliciously easy a semi-boneless leg quarter was to eat. Today I applied that same technique to chicken leg quarters. The technique opens up a slit on the inside of the thigh, leaving the skin in tact. Use a boning knife to carefully shave the meat away from the thigh bone; once exposed, cut through the leg/thigh joint to remove the thigh bone. Leave the drumstick bone-in. Finally, stuff the thigh and truss it together again using bamboo skewer and kitchen twine.
The results were spectacular, and the deboning/stuffing technique really elevated the presentation of the chicken. Stuffing the thigh made the flavor much more intense. While I gave it 5-stars as a bone-in, the recipe as I cooked it today was an out-of-the-park home run.
- I adjusted the recipe below so that I would have more paste to marinade the chicken. The original recipe called for just a few teaspoons of spices; without any lime or cilantro.
- I would suggest trying the deboning/stuffing technique at least once. It adds about 20 minutes to the preparation time, but really transforms the meal into something very special.
Rating: 5 stars.
How much work? 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)
8 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon grated lime zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (2 teaspoon of dried oregano)
- Peel garlic cloves. Mince garlic or press into a small bowl. Add kosher salt, sugar, lime zest, 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne; mix to form a paste. Set aside 2 Tablespoons 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.
- Leaving drumsticks attached to thighs. Remove any remnants of the backbone exposing the top of the thigh bone (probably need a chef’s knife for that). Using a boning knife follow the line of fat that follows the thigh bone, cutting into the thigh along the entire length of the thigh bone. Use the boning knife to shave down along the thigh bone until you reach the thigh/leg joint. Cut through the joint and discard the thigh bone.
- Trim away and extra skin and fat, pat dry using paper towels. Arrange on a cutting board with the skin-side up. Make 2 deep, parallel, diagonal cuts into each leg quarter: 1 across drumstick, 1 across joint. Each cut should reach the bone. Flip the chicken over and make 1 diagonal slash across the back of the drumstick.
- Rub paste from Step 1 into chicken, and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for between 1 and 24 hours.
- 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-to-25 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.
- 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.
- Arrange chicken with the skin-side upward on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and allow to brown for 11 to 12 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover, and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees.
- 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 pieces 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.
- 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.