And here we have an installment of grocery store NON-ripoff of the week. If you are meat eaters, and you enjoy cooking chicken, but are very concerned with your budget and the flavor of your food, let me introduce you to chicken leg quarters. If you have not already made friends with this particular cut, let me give you several reason why you should:
- Bone structure – Yes, this is a bone-in cut. If you have good butchers, a 2 bone-in cut, to be exact, the drumstick and the thigh bone, with the odd little sliver thing you don’t want to eat in the drumstick. Even if your butcher doesn’t get it perfect, compared to the breast, you are looking at one of the easiest home butchery jobs you’ll ever see. I like to cook them bone-in, and then just pull the bones out with tongs. This is the only bone-in cut I will use for Sweet Salsa Chicken. I certainly wouldn’t want to be hunting for dozens of rib bones in all that stuff after the meat has fallen off the bones in the crockpot!
- Economy – I can regularly find leg quarters on sale for 69 cents/pound. The only thing I can find cheaper is whole chicken. And while I like whole chickens (and buy them when they are 50 cents/pound or cheaper), I haven’t gotten up the nerve to try serious home butchery, yet. I probably will in the next few years, but right now, chopping up leg quarters is about as far as I want to go.
- Flavor – Let’s face it, dark meat has more flavor than white. Breastmeat can be awfully convenient, and more health conscious, but if I have to load it up with a pound of sauce just for it to taste like something besides cardboard, I don’t want to eat it. Or cook with it. When I am buying boneless skinless, I buy whatever is cheapest, but PREFER thighs. If I am going to be buying bone-in, give me leg quarters over split breasts anyday.
- Portion control – I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime in the last 15 years, chicken breasts have mutated. It used to be (back before we started supersizing everything) that women would order the chicken breast because it was the healthier, smaller portion on the menu. Nowadays, though, chicken breasts are weighing in at up to a pound each and looking more like turkey breasts than chicken. What used to be a good 4-6 oz portion has turned into 10-16 ounces. Did you know an adult woman should only be eating 5 ounces of protein PER DAY? Not per serving, PER DAY. And boys, don’t think that means you should be taking up the slack. Men should only be eating 6 ounces. So, a 1# leg quarter yields 2 servings of 4-6 ounces of cooked meat each (minus bone and skin weight). It’s a lot easier for me to look at a thigh or drumstick and say, “That’s one serving” than a quarter of a breast. It’s a psychological thing. And no, I haven’t gotten myself down to 5 ounces per day, but I am working on it.
Well, that’s it, my big 4 reason for loving chicken leg quarters. When I look in the grocery store circular, and get excited about seeing ground beef for $2/pound, you can see why something like leg quarters is my budget’s friend! 🙂