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Mexican Chicken Legs (Drumsticks and Thighs)

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A simple recipe for cooking Mexican chicken legs. Chicken drumsticks and thighs simmered in spicy salsa verde; you will only need three ingredients for a delicious meal.

close up of mexican chicken drumsticks in a white dutch oven sprinkled with herbs.

You will just love these Mexican chicken legs if you like Mexican food. It’s such an easy chicken recipe! With superb results! Tender chicken drumsticks and chicken thighs slowly simmered in salsa, some zucchini added along the way, and a bit of rice for serving.

Recipe ingredients

Chicken:

  • I had whole chicken legs (quarters), which I divided at the joint before cooking.
  • Otherwise, you can buy a mixture of drumsticks and thighs or use only drumsticks or only thighs.

Salsa verde:

  • Your favorite brand of salsa verde or homemade salsa.

Other ingredients: one zucchini, olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

Step-by-step instructions

Pan: You will need a large and shallow Dutch oven or another large and shallow heavy-bottomed pan with a fitting lid.

How to divide chicken legs at the joint?

  • Hold the thigh with one hand and the chicken leg with the other. Bend the leg until the joint dislocates.
  • Cut through the dislocated joint with a sharp knife or use kitchen shears. Remove the excess fat and skin.

How to fry the chicken?

  • Brown meat: Heat the oil on high heat in a large skillet. Place chicken parts, skin side down, in the pan, and fry on medium heat without moving until the skin is deeply golden, 4-5 minutes or so. Flip the meat and continue cooking on the other side for another 4-5 minutes or until golden (1).
  • Simmer: Add salsa verde and water to the frying pan. Simmer, covered, on low heat for about 25 minutes (2).
collage of two pictures of browning chicken parts in a white pot and adding sauce.

  • Add the zucchini chunks (3) and continue simmering for 15 minutes or until the Mexican chicken drumsticks and thighs are cooked through.
  • Remove the lid from the pan during the last 5 minutes of cooking to reduce the sauce slightly (4).
  • Taste and add some salt, if necessary.
collage of two pictures of cooking chicken and zucchini and then the finished dish.

Expert tip

When browning the legs, only flip them when you notice that you can easily lift them without the skin sticking to the bottom of the pan. Don’t rush, or all the nice golden skin will be lost.

Recipe FAQ

How to check if the chicken is done?

The best way of checking is with a meat thermometer (Amazon affiliate link); cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F/75°C.
If you don’t have one, take a leg out of the pan and make a small cut on the underside of the chicken, near the bone. The meat around the bone should be white and not pink or bloody.

Can I use red salsa?

Yes, the flavors will be completely different but delicious.

How to store?

Refrigerate: Let the chicken dish come at room temperature and refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat before serving.
Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat before serving.

How to reheat?

Stovetop: Reheat in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium-low heat, covered. Add a splash of water and mix it with the salsa to loosen the sauce. Turn the Mexican chicken legs a few times in the pan during reheating. Make sure the meat is piping hot before serving.
Microwave, covered for about 2 minutes. Check and continue reheating until the meat is hot. Check every minute or so.

close up mexican chicken drumsticks and thighs sprinkled with parsley in a pot.

How to serve?

Serve the Mexican chicken legs with rice. This time, we had brown rice, but white rice is probably more genuine. Or serve the dish with Mexican-style rice, also known as Spanish Rice with Beans.

You can garnish the dish with fresh cilantro, oregano, or parsley for even more great flavor.

How to use leftovers?

Make enchiladas:

  • Remove the skin and bones from the meat, shred the meat roughly and mix it with the salsa verde sauce. Use this mixture to make enchiladas, fill tortillas, or make burritos or tacos.
  • Add other ingredients like avocado, cheese, or whatever you like.
black bowl with rice, chicken and salsa, more chicken in the pot beside it.

More delicious recipes, Mexican-style

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close up of mexican chicken drumsticks in a white dutch oven sprinkled with herbs.

Mexican Chicken Legs (Drumsticks and Thighs)

A simple recipe for cooking Mexican chicken legs. Chicken drumsticks and thighs simmered in spicy salsa verde; you will only need three ingredients for a delicious meal.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Poultry
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 546kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • Large shallow Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pan

Ingredients 

  • 4 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks OR 4 chicken quarters, Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups salsa verde 350 g/ 12.5 oz
  • ½ cup water 125 ml/ 4 fl.oz
  • 1 medium zucchini about 150 g/ 5.5 oz
  • fine sea salt or Kosher

Instructions

  • Brown chicken: Heat the oil in the pan. Place the chicken parts, skin side down, in the pan and cook without moving for about 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is golden and you can move it in the pan without the skin sticking to the pan.
  • Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for another 4-5 minutes or until golden.
  • Simmer: Add the salsa verde and water to the pan around the chicken parts and mix shortly. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 25 minutes.
  • Add zucchini: In the meantime, halve the zucchini lengthwise and slice the halves into chunks. Add them to the pan and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove the lid from the pan during the last 5 minutes of cooking time to reduce the liquid slightly.
  • Check chicken: Use a meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be 165°F/75°C (Note 2).
  • Adjust the taste with salt, if necessary.

Notes

  1. If using whole chicken quarters, divide them at the joint. Hold the chicken thigh with one hand and the chicken leg with the other. Bend the chicken leg until the joint dislocates. Cut through the dislocated joint with a sharp knife or use kitchen shears. Remove the excess fat and skin from the chicken parts.
  2. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, take one chicken piece out of the pan and make a small cut on the underside, near the bone. The meat around the bone should be white and not pink or bloody.

Nutrition

Serving: 1chicken quarter with sauce | Calories: 546kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 64g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 328mg | Sodium: 913mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g
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Recipe Rating




DSP

Monday 16th of September 2019

This recipe is superb, will try out soon. Thank you for sharing Adina

Adina

Monday 16th of September 2019

Thank you, let me know if you liked it.

angiesrecipes

Sunday 15th of September 2019

Very appetizing and tasty! The sauce seems really flavourful.