Cuban Chicken Legs
My friends Mindy and R. B. kept raving about a dinner party where the Cuban host served grilled chicken legs along with a salad made with papaya and arugula. Those chicken legs benefited from the Cuban-inspired marinade of lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. They’ll feed a crowd because you can buy the big party packs of legs and marinate as many as you need in plastic bags before baking. To serve, place the salad in the center of a large, pretty platter, then arrange the chicken legs around the greens in a spoke pattern. The secret to this recipe? “Too much” garlic.
BIG BATCH: It’s easy to make more than one batch—double or triple the recipe by buying a lot of chicken legs and placing them in two or three separate marinating bags. You’ll probably be able to fit fifteen to sixteen legs in one bag.
WANT TO TOTE THE CHICKEN LEGS?
Arrange the chicken legs on a platter with the papaya salad, cover the platter with plastic wrap, and you’re ready to go.
Preparation Time10 min
Preparation Time - Text10 minutes Marinate: 3 hours
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, meaty, savory, tangy
- 15 to 16 chicken legs (about 4 pounds)
- 1½ cups fresh lemon juice (from 6 to 8 lemons), plus 1 or 2 lemons, thinly sliced and seeded
- ½ cup olive oil
- 15 medium-size cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano, or a small handful of fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Papaya and Arugula Salad , for serving
Rinse the chicken legs under cold running water and pat them dry with paper towels. Place the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, bouillon cubes, salt, oregano, and pepper in a jumbo (2½-gallon) resealable plastic bag or large nonreactive bowl—glass, plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel. Add the chicken legs. Seal the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate for a few hours or as long as overnight.
When ready to cook, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the chicken on a large rimmed baking sheet. Scatter the lemon slices over the chicken. Bake the chicken until it is cooked through, tender, and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
Place the Papaya and Arugula Salad in the middle of a large platter. Arrange the chicken legs with the baked lemon slices around the salad. The chicken can be served warm or chilled. If you’d like to make the chicken legs ahead of time they’ll keep for 24 hours; you can reheat them in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes, if you want to serve them warm.
2007 Anne Byrn