I was all set on Nigel Slater's "no-brainer" grilled chicken dinner, until I read the fine print: "Remove the bones from the legs with a sharp knife." No wonder it was in an article aimed at more experienced cooks (those who "can whip an egg white" with ease, as the headnote touted). Apparently I was in over my head.
I've certainly grilled chicken legs before but have never deboned one, and as I eyed the pile of them on my kitchen counter, the task looked increasingly unlikely. Ten minutes later, though, I had a respectable pile of flattened-out chicken legs, and the job was done. Tough kitchen tasks have a way of getting easier as you go.
What's the point of this one? Convenient slabs of rich dark meat crisp up nicely on the grill while staying tender and moist. It's easy enough to buy a boneless, skinless chicken breast and serve it with a simple herb sauce (this one combines parsley, mint, and basil pulsed with mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice), but a darker meat with ample fat and a little skin adds a ton more flavor. If you can find deboned chicken legs or thighs, you're set—but if not, good luck.
- 4 chicken legs
- 2 large handfuls flat-leaf parsley
- A large handful of mint leaves
- A large handful of basil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Olive oil to taste
- Lemon juice to taste
- Salt and pepper
Lay the chicken legs on a cutting board and carefully cut a slit down to the bone with a sharp knife. Working with the tip of the knife, remove the meat from the bone and trim away any gristle. Salt and pepper the deboned legs and gloss with a little olive oil.
While a grill or grill pan heats, combine the herbs and mustard in a blender or small food processor and chop, then add olive oil to create a barely pourable sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and sharpen with lemon juice.
Grill the chicken skin-side down until its golden and crisp, then finish on the other side. Serve with the herb sauce.