Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chicken Feet for Stock

2 Pounds of chicken feet. (Sorry the photo is washed out.)

For years I have read that using chicken feet for stock results in a nice thickly jelled broth. Now that I have a local source for chicken feet, naturally I had to try it! The package of feet came frozen from the butchering place all clean and nicely packaged, with the thin yellow outer 'skin' already peeled off. The toes have joints, just like our feet do, and are easy to separate at a joint. However, since these were small (maybe bantams?), I took a chef's knife to them. After doing 2-3, I switched to my cleaver, and didn't try for a joint. They chopped off nicely. After I cut off the talons, I dropped the feet in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then drained and cooled them under cold running water.

Into a clean pot with 3 quarts of water, I added a quartered onion, 2-3 carrots, and a few peppercorns, and the talon-less feet. I do not like to add salt or any spices if I am going to can or freeze the stock. (I never know how I may want to use it later, and any added salt seems to get more pronounced in storage.) Brought the pot to a slow simmer, covered loosely, and simmered about 4 hours.

After straining, I reduced the stock, chilled the stock overnight and pressure-caned it. (My freezer space is now at a premium.) The stock was like medium-jello after chilling!

Since this is my first time making stock with feet, I opted to cook the chicken necks and backs separately. That way I can choose to mix, or not.

I found a recipe for an Asian inspired stock from just 1 pound of chicken feet. The seasonings are a knob of fresh ginger, 1 whole bulb of garlic, 1 star anise and a piece of lemongrass. Makes 2 quarts. I may try some the next time I get chicken feet; I don't have any lemon grass on hand or I would have divided the feet into 2 batches.

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