When you’re pressed for time and money, marinating chicken leg quarters fits the bill. This less expensive cut of chicken has more flavor and moisture than chicken breasts. Marinating the leg quarters requires little preparation to infuse flavor, and baking lets you cook them up without the addition of any oil. Remove the skin prior to baking to allow the marinade to thoroughly penetrate the chicken and to decrease the fat content.
Soak Up the Flavor
Marinating infuses chicken with flavor deep into the meat. Use a store-bought marinade if you’re short on time, or make your own to control the ingredients and to customize the flavors. Marinades include three basic ingredients: oil, acidity, such as vinegar or lemon juice, and spices. Place your chicken in a resealable bag for easy cleanup, and marinate it for two hours, or overnight for a bolder flavor. The USDA states that chicken may be left safely in the marinade for up to two days. Always marinate the chicken in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken and discard the remaining marinade. Due to possible bacterial contamination, the marinade isn’t safe for using as a sauce unless it is boiled first. Place the chicken in a single layer in a baking dish. Avoid overcrowding or overlapping the chicken so it cooks thoroughly and evenly. If desired, you could add a breading to the chicken before baking it, coating it lightly in bread crumbs or seasoned flour for additional flavor and texture.
Hit the Oven
Bake the chicken leg quarters for approximately 40 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Although some instructions say to cook the chicken until the juices run clear, this is not an accurate way to determine doneness. Use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh to check the internal temperature, avoiding the bone or the baking dish. The temperature should register at least 165 F.
Store It Away
Buy large family packs of leg quarters and bake them ahead of time to use later in the week, shredded in soups, stews, casseroles or fajitas. For short-term storage, leftover chicken lasts 3 to 4 days when refrigerated at 40 F or below. Freeze oven-baked chicken leg quarters safely for four to six months. The USDA notes that leftover chicken lasts for approximately four months if frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.