The point of this series is to show off our successes and failures. Please don’t be intimidated by pictures of pretty food here and on other blogs. If you go back through the archives you will see it has taken me over two years to become competent. We have just shy of 2000 followers*, with that many people I know there must be a good mix of skill levels, so don’t be shy. The recipe and story are after the link widget. Oh, and don’t worry, today I’m also sharing a boneheaded mistake.
I won’t lie, chicken feet are scary. They look somewhere between lizards and alien hands. I’ve passed by them all my life in the meat department, lying forlornly in little styrofoam trays. Last week I organized an adventure with my friends Bran and Heidi. We explored a new-to-us Asian market on the other side of town. I’d been trying to think of something exciting for this site and when I spotted theses awful looking things, I knew it was time for me to step out of my comfort zone and invite all of our Home Eccers to do the same. (Just not necessarily with chicken feet, unless that’s what you want, because it was tasty.) This is a recipe for when you’ll be home all day, but won’t require much attention once it gets going.
Homemade Chicken Stock from Chicken Feet
First heat two quarts of water to a boil in a pot. Give the feet a good rinse and place them in the stock pot. When your water is boiling, pour it over the feet, turn your burner to high and boil the feet for 5 minutes. There is going to be a lot of foam, this is normal.
While your chicken feet are boiling get your vegetables ready. When your timer dings, pour the chicken feet into a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Then get a sharp knife and if you have kitchen shears, grab those, too. Cut the tips off of the toes. I will warn you, if you are using shears, they may will go flying. Yes, I was trying not to squeal “eew! eew! eew!” with each flying bit. The chicken feet usually have a rough patch in the center of the foot. Use a sharp knife to cut that off. Don’t look too closely and don’t think too hard about how badly you may need a pedicure.
Place the pampered feet in your stock pot and cover with cold water, you want the water level to be at least two inches over the feet. Add your vegetables and spices to the pot. Place on the stove and turn the burner to medium high. As soon as the stock reaches a boil turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer. Use your slotted spoon to skim off some of the foam. You won’t get all of it and that’s OK. Cover your pot, but leave the lid cracked open so there’s about 1/2 an inch of room for steam to escape. Now leave it alone for the next two hours, except for the occasional skim. Remove the lid and let the liquid simmer for another hour. Now for the fun part.
Remove all the large pieces (vegetables and chicken) from the stock and discard. With your sieve / cheesecloth, carefully strain the broth.
It’s important to use a very fine sieve or several layers of cheesecloth as this helps get rid of most of the fat. There really isn’t a whole lot. Have you ever seen a chicken with fat feet? Exactly. Pour your stock into a bowl that has a lid or several jars. They need to cool some before being placed in the refrigerator. I placed my jars in a large pan of cool (not cold) water for 10 minutes before placing them in the fridge.
When the stock has completely cooled in the refrigerator it will gel. This is a very good thing and the signature of an excellent stock. This is a stock you cannot get off a grocery store shelf. I ran the numbers, 1 quart of organic stock was 3.99 at my grocery store, the feet were 2.63, once you add in electricity and vegetables the cost was similar, but I ended up with 1.5 quarts. When making soup, I dilute the stock with an equal amount of water. This homemade stock freezes beautifully, just make sure you use the right kind of jars or pour it into a muffin tin or ice cube tray. Once frozen, store in a freezer bag.
*Now Heather admits where she screwed up: I was out of black peppercorns. I omitted the pepper while preparing the stock, intending on running to the store and getting pepper for the final soup. Life got in the way and I said to heck with it and used a mixed blend of peppercorns in my soup. At the time I didn’t realize that the mixed peppercorns contained allspice. I hate allspice. I loathe allspice with an unholy feeling of contempt. Thankfully, no one else in my family was bothered by its evil presence.