Poached chicken leg quarters are healthier than other fried chicken and other poultry recipes. As long as you boil the meat correctly, you can make a delicious meal that rivals some of the less healthy styles of cooking chicken.
You can boil a chicken leg quarter and make it into a stew. Or, you can poach it by submerging it slightly in water.
White vs. Dark Meat
Chicken meat varies by body part. Some parts, such as the legs and thighs, have more dark meat, while other parts, like the breast, have more white meat. Chicken leg quarters are a combination of the leg and thigh — they're simply separated and cooked as one unit.
White meat has less fat but also less flavor than dark meat. The difference in the color comes from the different types of muscles.
Chicken legs and thighs have more color and flavor because they're made from dark, oxygenated meat. White meat is low in fat and calories and boasts a mild flavor. Dark meat has more flavor and is harder to overcook.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, dark chicken meat is three times higher in fat than its white counterpart. Chicken leg quarters typically have the skin left on, which adds extra fat. While the skin adds flavor during the cooking process, it should be removed before you eat the chicken to avoid extra fat in your meal.
Alternatives to Boiling
If you tried boiling your chicken and you didn't like the flavor or texture, there are other options for cooking. Since this part of the chicken has more fat and skin than on the breast, for example, you have a variety of cooking options.
Use your oven to bake the chicken leg quarters. Rub salt, pepper and herbs on the meat for extra flavor. Then, put it in the oven and bake until the chicken is fully cooked through.
Alternatively, you can bread the chicken before putting it in the oven. Marinate it for a few hours prior to baking. When it's ready to cook, roll it in fresh breadcrumbs to add crunch to the outside.
Braising is another option for cooking chicken leg quarters in the oven. Start by browning the chicken on both sides on a stovetop. Then, put it in a dutch oven and add braising liquid. You can add garlic, herbs and onion for extra flavor.
Poached Chicken Leg Quarters
Martha Stewart offers a poached chicken leg quarter recipe — she uses vegetables to make it almost like a stew. You'll combine onion, carrot, celery, garlic, lemon, parsley, salt and pepper into a pot with water.
Bring the water to a boil, add the meat and return to a boil for three minutes. Then, cover the pot and let it cook for 15 to 18 minutes before removing the chicken.
Use a meat thermometer to test the temperature of your poached chicken thighs and drumsticks. It should be cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit all the way through. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, poultry meat should be cooked until its internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the pathogens that cause food poisoning.
You may use a frying pan or oven to roast the meat if you're sick of boiled chicken recipes for dinner. White meat, such as chicken breast, can become too dry if you use these cooking methods. However, chicken leg quarters have natural moisture and will still be appetizing.
Boiling doesn't add any fats to the chicken, though. Frying, on the other hand, adds oil and fat to the chicken, increasing its calorie count.
Read more: How to Bake a Plain Chicken Breast
Chicken Leg Quarter Nutrition
A stewed leg quarter without the skin has 221 calories, as reported by the USDA. It also delivers 32 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat and no carbohydrates. If you include the skin, however, the calorie count goes up to 338. You'll also get 20 grams of fat, as opposed to 10 grams, and 37 grams of protein.
A roasted chicken leg quarter without the skin has 190 calories. There are 28 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat. With the skin on, the calorie count jumps up to 295 for a slightly larger portion, with 34 grams of protein and 17 grams of fat.
The biggest problem with eating the skin is its high saturated fat content. A September 2015 article published in the International Journal of Chemical and Biomolecular Science explains that chicken skin contains mostly saturated fat, which may raise your cholesterol levels and put you at risk for heart disease in the long run.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Truth About Fats: The Good, the Bad, and the In-Between"
- International Journal of Chemical and Biomolecular Science: "Fatty Acid Profile Composition of Chicken Skin"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Chicken, Leg (Drumstick and Thigh), Roasted, Broiled, or Baked, Skin Eaten"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Chicken, Leg (Drumstick and Thigh), Roasted, Broiled, or Baked, Skin Not Eaten"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Chicken, Leg (Drumstick and Thigh), Stewed, Skin Eaten"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Chicken, Leg (Drumstick and Thigh), Stewed, Skin Not Eaten"
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: "Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts"
- Martha Stewart: "Basic Poached Chicken"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Breasts vs Thighs Which Is More Nutritious"
- Perdue: "White Meat Vs Dark Meat"
- Colby College: "White Versus Dark Muscles in Birds"
- American Council on Exercise: "Muscle Fiber Types: Fast-Twitch vs. Slow-Twitch"