Chicken Legs are where most of the dark meat on a chicken comes from — the legs are all dark meat. Many people avoid dark meat because it has a higher fat content than white meat. Because white meat lacks flavour, though, the same people who avoid dark meat for health reasons often coat, batter, deep fry, or smother white meat in cream sauces. It’s quite likely that the people who just eat the dark meat are further ahead.
Other people don’t like the taste of dark meat, or don’t like the fact that they can see bones in it, and so view it as inferior meat. Consequently, for a few decades now the poultry industry has promoted the white meat parts of the chicken domestically, and exported the dark meat parts to the rest of the world. The Chinese, for example, prefer leg meat.
Legs have maintained some popularity in homes, but you will rarely see them in restaurants. Chefs gave in to consumer demand for white meat, even though it was less flavourful and couldn’t stand up to stronger flavours.
Many people wonder how to tell a left Chicken Leg from a right Chicken Leg. There is a “bend” in the leg where the “knee” is, making the leg into a kind of a V. Point the bend forward, away from you, so that you are “inside” the V. If the upper part of the thigh is on the right-hand side of you, you have a left leg; if it’s on the left-hand side of you, you have a right leg.
America since the 1980s has had a Chicken Leg surplus that they have exported frozen around the world (which causes problems in developing countries owing to the very high level of taxpayer subsidies that chicken production receives in the US.) In Russia, the Ukraine and India, farmers have complained about the US dumping, but the US farmers don’t seem to mind until it happens in the other direction to them.
Mock Chicken Legs (City Chicken)
Mock Chicken Legs (aka City Chicken) is a dish that was invented in the early part of the 20th century, at a time when chicken was expensive and pork and veal were cheap. Recipes vary, of course, but you would take cubes of veal and/or pork, put them on skewers (or shape ground pork or veal around a skewer), dip each skewer in beaten egg, coat with bread crumbs or cornmeal, then brown in a frying pan, then bake with chicken stock over them. The skewer would be a “pretend” bone.
Now, with the price of veal and pork being relatively high, and Chicken Legs so cheap that they are being dumped on the developing world, it doesn’t really make sense to use expensive meat to imitate something that is quite cheap. Particularly with the price of veal these days.
Chicken Legs are very easy to cook, and very hard to overcook.
Literature & Lore
Baba Yaga was a witch in Russian folktales who lived in the middle of a forest in a hut that stood on Chicken Legs.