Chicken quarters are perfectly sized for easy handling on a grill. A quarter is composed of either a breast and a wing or a thigh and a drumstick. A 3-oz. serving of chicken has 160 calories and 7 g of fat. Remove the skin before marinating to keep the fat content down. Marinating the chicken for several hours before grilling will make it juicy enough without the skin. Make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
A basic marinade consists of three parts oil, two parts acid and herbs or spices for flavor. Tropical flavors work particularly well. Use the juice from citrus fruits for the acid, such as oranges and limes. Chile peppers and allspice add zip, and a tablespoon of soy sauce can add depth. Use a light-tasting cooking oil, such as grapeseed oil to let the other flavors shine through. Be generous with chopped fresh cilantro, using up to half a cup. For a marinade similar to Jamaican jerk, add 2 tbs. brown sugar to the mix. Put the chicken quarters and the marinade in a large zip-lock plastic bag, and leave them in the refrigerator for at least three hours before grilling.
A traditional Japanese teriyaki sauce flavors chicken nicely and isn't difficult to make if you can find mirin, a sweet cooking wine. For a teriyaki-inspired marinade, combine equal parts mirin and soy sauce, 2 tbs. each of sake and sugar and 1 tbs. ginger. Add or subtract ingredients by the tablespoon to taste. Pineapple makes a sweet marinade, and sesame oil adds nuttiness. Use 2 to 3 cups of marinade for four chicken quarters, and marinate for at least two hours.
Use plain yogurt, curry spices and chile peppers for a marinade reminiscent of tandoori and the flavors of India. Use enough yogurt to coat the chicken and spices to taste. After marinating overnight, drain the chicken, and pat off any excess with paper towels. Brush the chicken lightly with oil before you put it on the grill.
Wine is a staple in Mediterranean cooking, and marinades are no exception. Use a quality wine. A rich wine such as shiraz gives bold flavor to dark-meat leg quarters, while a lighter red such as pinot noir complements breast quarters. Two to 3 cups of wine with a 1/4 cup of lemon juice are enough to marinate four chicken quarters. Combine them in a zip-lock plastic bag, and leave them in the refrigerator for three hours. Red-wine vinegar is also common in Mediterranean-inspired marinades. Use the basic marinade ratio, and combine with olive oil, fresh basil and rosemary for a light flavor.
A Greek yogurt-based marinade with lemon juice, garlic and dill makes a nicely tangy chicken and is prepared in the same manner as the tandoori yogurt marinade.
If you're in a hurry, bottled marinades are an easy solution. Try experimenting with other prepared dressings, as well. Vinaigrette salad dressings and bottled teriyaki sauce work particularly well. Look for a fruit-based vinaigrettes, such as blackberry or raspberry, for a nice contrast to the dark meat of leg quarters. Combine 2 to 3 cups of marinade with four chicken quarters in a plastic zip-lock bag. Two hours are sufficient, but marinating overnight develops a richer, more complex flavor. Do not reuse the marinade for basting your chicken while you're grilling it. This could contaminate your food. If you want to baste your chicken, use fresh marinade.
- "Daily Herald"; Love Me Tender: Marinades are Crucial for Moist, Tasty Barbecued Meat; Natalie Hollingshead; May 2007
- Eating Well; Red Wine Marinade; May/June 2007
- Taste of Home; Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Recipe; June/July 2002
- Food Network; Grilled Basil-Marinated Chicken; George Stella
- Sunset on MyRecipes.com; Jerk Marinade; August 2010