Let’s compare, shall we?
Fried chicken – makes a splattery mess, you have to constantly adjust the oil temperature, and you have to stand there while you fry a few pieces at a time then keep the first pieces warm while you fry the rest.
Un-fried chicken – no mess, put it in the oven and forget it, you can walk away and do fun things.
Yes, I said oven. That’s how I fry chicken now.
It’s the easiest and most delicious way to cook chicken. It tastes remarkably like traditional fried chicken but you’ll be willing to make it more than once a year. Chicken leg quarters are the least expensive cut of chicken so this is an impressive, budget friendly dish.
What takes this chicken over the top is the brine which adds succulent moisture and loads of flavor. I’ve used this cooking technique with and without the brine and although the chicken is still really good; the brining does make big a difference. It’s just salt, sugar and water, but boy, does it make magic.
Un-fried Chicken Leg Quarters
For the brine
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup water + more to cover
For the chicken
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Let’s start with the brine, shall we? You’ll want to brine the chicken for a minimum of 3 hours but 8 hours to overnight is much, much better. Combine 3 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 cup of water in a microwavable cup. Microwave for 1 minute, stir and put it back in for another 30 seconds to dissolve the salt and sugar.
Place the brine and chicken in a large bowl. Add very cold water to cover the chicken, topped off with a few cups of ice cubes. Cover and place it in the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat oven to 400°. Remove chicken and discard brine. Pat the chicken very dry with paper towels.
In a one-gallon zip top bag, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and garlic. Add the chicken pieces one at a time, shaking to coat. Shake to remove excess flour and set aside. Repeat with each leg quarter. Discard remaining flour dredge.
Put the butter and olive oil in a roasting pan that’s large enough to hold all the chicken without crowding. Place the pan in the hot oven to melt the butter and preheat.
When it’s good and hot, place the chicken, skin side down, into the hot pan. Oven fry until beautifully golden brown, about 40 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape them off the pan (so the skin doesn’t stick) and flip them over to finish cooking the other side, about 10 minutes.
Because leg quarter size varies greatly you’ll need to test for doneness with a meat thermometer looking to read 165°. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before devouring.
For goodness sake! Don’t waste those amazingly flavor packed drippings in the pan.
You could make a rich pan gravy. Place your oven safe roasting pan on the stove top, using two burners and heat pan to medium low. Adding 2 tablespoons flour to the drippings and whisk for a minute. Next, add in 1 ½ cups chicken broth whisking constantly until incorporated and thickened. Finish with a splash of cream and fresh ground pepper.
Or do what I do, make a simple pan sauce and run my cooked veggies through for crazy good flavor.
Place your oven safe roasting pan on the stove top, using two burners and heat pan to medium low. Add a ½ cup onion and let that cook until softened. Add 1 cup chicken broth and stir to deglaze, scraping up all the lovely brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let this reduce by half. Add cooked veggies (veggies like green beans, or potatoes, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, anything really) to the pan and toss to coat. Turn off heat and serve with the well-rested chicken.
Now that we can have fried chicken without the frying, I see some Divalicious Sunday dinners, picnics and tailgate parties in our futures. Don’t you think?