At the risk of being hunted, shot, and fed to gators by local barbecue addicts, or suffering the silent treatment from my local food writer friends, I’m going to share a dirty secret about what I did to some chicken legs last night: I “barbecued” them in the oven.
Save it: I’ve had real barbecue, and I’ve grilled more than my share of chicken (a process I’m obsessive about, particularly in the post-saucing period), so I don’t want to hear your whinging. Last night I was faced with cooking off 1.25 chickens (um, five leg quarters) that I copped at a measly $.99/lb, and had no desire to grill by flashlight.
Leg quarters, by the way, are my favorite way to purchase dark meat chicken. The price is much lower than individual drumsticks or thighs, and they’re easy to prep: just feel for the the drumstick/thigh joint with your finger, then cut through that spot with a sharp chef’s knife.
Anyway, I punked out on cooking them. I dropped them in casserole dishes, smeared them store-bought barbecue sauce and slid them into a 350 degree oven. When they were close to done, I drained the a deep, deep pools of fat from the dishes and slathered the chicken with more sauce, then put them back in the oven until they got dark and caramelized looking.
A quick note on the sauce: if you aren’t going to make your own barbecue sauce and, like I, keep some store-bought around in case of emergency, make it a brand made with sugar and not high fructose corn syrup, the ADM cash cow you’re already subsidizing.
So here’s the dirtiest part of my whole story: I really, really liked them. Here I was just chucking them in an oven to keep them from going south, and I discovered the easiest, in-a-pinch way to make passable barbecue-ish chicken ever. Not that I’m the first person to discover an interesting by-product by accident, as Albert Hoffman and Spencer Silver both well know. But you can eat as much of my discovery as you want without gluing your mouth shut or tripping balls for two weeks.
So you can stand on principal all you want, but if you need a quick barbecue fix and have some cheap-ass leg quarters available, you can do way, way worse than my oven method. Don’t believe me? The only words to leave my son Desmond’s mouth while he hoovered a couples of drumsticks this afternoon were these:
“Mmmm. Meaty and saucy.”