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How Do I Broil Chicken Legs?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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Broil chicken legs by placing them on a broiler about 6 to 7 inches (15–18 centimeters) from the heat source, leaving the skin on, coating the surface of the broiler in oil, and turning the chicken legs without piercing them. Check that the legs are done using a meat thermometer or by piercing them and checking the color of the juices. Other tips that can help chefs to broil chicken legs include putting smaller pieces on the outside to even out cooking times and to preheat the broiler before adding the legs. Brushing the chicken legs with olive oil and spices can help improve the flavor of the broiled meat.

Chefs should leave the skin on when trying to broil chicken legs. Broiling is essentially like grilling, in that the food is cooked with dry heat, and is prone to becoming dry. The bone in the chicken legs will help the meat stay moist, but the skin is also important for locking in moisture. Some people may find the fat in the skin unappealing, however. The skin can be removed, but this will usually result in chicken legs that are somewhat drier.

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The distance from the heat source can have a big effect when trying to broil chicken legs. If the meat is placed too close to the heat source, it may over-cook, and too far away can increase cooking times. Most chefs recommend placing the broiler around 6 to 7 inches (15–18 centimeters) from the heat source, which is generally the middle shelf on the oven. The broiler should be preheated for around 10 minutes to ensure even cooking and a moist result.

Turning the chicken legs over with a fork creates punctures in the meat, which allows juices to drip out. The main concern for chefs when trying to broil chicken legs is the tendency of broiled meat, and particularly chicken, to dry out. Allowing juices to escape from punctured skin can cause the cooked meat to dry out. If the chicken legs are cooking too much on one side, chefs should turn them over without using a fork. A pair of tongs is the best tool for this job, because they allow the chef to get a firm grip on the legs.

Seasoning the chicken legs prior to broiling is important. Chicken has a relatively mild flavor, and can be bland if unseasoned. Chefs should add salt and pepper to the skin of the chicken legs, along with a brushing of olive oil, before cooking. Marinades can be used to further flavor the meat, and some mixed herbs can also add flavor. Chicken goes well with herbs such as thyme.

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