I think whole chicken legs tend to be very overlooked or ignored in many kitchens. Firstly they are all dark meat, the entirety of the dark meat of the chicken, and many people head straight for the breasts, not realizing that dark meat is inherently juicier and more flavorful by and large. Individual thighs and drumsticks definitely get more play as well I guess there’s something kind of unsexy about the whole leg, thigh and drumstick joined together.
But they are delicious! And cheap! Interestingly you might find whole legs priced lower than thighs and drumsticks sold separately. Which is just plain silly, but another good reason that this unnoticed cut of chicken should make its way onto your dinner table.
Just 10 minutes of prep! Whole chicken legs are inexpensive, easy to roast up, and just plain delicious.Tweet This
As with any kind of roasted chicken—whole or parts—you can keep it very simple and get something very delicious. Buying “good” chicken is the key—I’m not one to lecture about organic or free range or such because I think everyone should make their own decisions on all of that, especially if budget is a factor, but I am here to say that more expensive chicken is usually raised and butchered in a better way, and you can taste the difference. Especially when the seasonings are kept to a minimum.
If you are thinking, why are there only two chicken legs in these photos? You are observant and correct….. That’s all I was making when I first made the recipe, but as with pretty much every recipe on this blog, I usually gear the amounts to serve 4 or more (sometimes much more) because that’s the reality of my house. But not on the day of this shoot, clearly.
Baked Chicken Legs with Herbs and Lemon
- 4 whole chicken legs 2 1/2 pounds total
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce I used harissa paste, but you can use anything
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried, optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried, optional
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 lemon halved
- Preheat the oven to 475°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan large enough to hold the legs in a single layer with nonstick baking spray.
- Blend the olive oil, harissa paste, oregano, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the chicken legs with the seasoned oil and place them skin side up in the baking sheet or pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until the skin is browned and crispy and the chicken is cooked through.
- Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and cut the drumsticks and thighs apart if desired. Squeeze the lemons over the chicken. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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