501 Life Magazine | HOW TO: The glory of chicken thigh quarters
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HOW TO: The glory of chicken thigh quarters

by April Fortner

For those of us who love to save money on groceries but can’t quite stand to go vegan, there are chicken thigh quarters in our future. Ten pounds of bone-in chicken meat can typically be bought for around $7.

Even for our family of six, we can usually make three meals out of this bag of chicken. It contains about 10 thigh quarters. It doesn’t appear to be glorious at first; in fact, pretty often there is a leg that is broken, or they’re all frozen together in a lump. Sometimes the skin still has bits of feather attached! But make no mistake, this bag of protein will make three delectable meals by the time you are through with it.

I like to cook them all at once, usually on a coal grill with garlic salt, but sometimes in the oven if the weather is foul (375 degrees for 45 minutes is usually enough). Always cook chicken to 180 degrees and rinse before cooking. Then, once they’ve cooled I remove the skin and de-bone them (it gets faster with expertise, I promise). Eating them as barbecued chicken uses more meat than adding them to recipes, but if you just can’t help it, you can use five thigh quarters right away (cut into legs and thighs), make chicken pizza out of two and still have three left for another recipe. You could make chicken enchiladas, chicken noodle soup, chicken rice casserole, chicken fajitas, chicken curry, chicken fried rice — the list is endless! Even with all of the sides, it is easy to feed all six of us on less than $7 for a meal, and often less.

Here is a recipe to get you started. If you run out of ideas, I plan on posting some extra recipes on my blog at cascadiansummer.blogspot.com. (I use a pen name — please don’t laugh.)

Chicken enchiladas

3 chicken thigh quarters (cooked, de-boned and cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 lb. cheddar cheese
10 tortillas
1 30-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup water

Cut up onions and garlic and sauté in butter until soft and slightly brown. Add tomato sauce, spices, salt, sugar, chicken and water. Cook until bubbly.

Soften tortillas 20 seconds in microwave and fill with chicken and onion (scooped from the sauce) and shredded cheese. Roll and place in greased glass baking pan.

Cover with remaining sauce and more shredded cheese. Cook in an oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with homemade Mexican rice, fresh salsa, sour cream, cilantro and a side salad. Serves six.


A resident of Conway, April Fortner is a wife and mother of four. She has a bachelor’s degree in physics and enjoys cooking, gardening, writing and homeschooling her children. In her free time, she likes to think of creative ways to stretch their income.