BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Chicken Feet

with 3 comments


It's so carnal to chop the claws off the parboiled human-like feet. And use a paring knife to cut off the black claw pads.

Leg of lamb apparently isn’t kosher. I learned so much while bragging to my husband’s grandmother that I was making her grandson lamb for a seder. I thought the whole lamb was fair game for Passover. Apparently, the leg is too close to the hoof. But chicken feet are sound? I’ll never understand that logic. Don’t even get me started on the prohibitions against bugs on organic produce.

I wanted to make from-scratch chicken stock for matzo ball soup, so what better time to finally try making stock from chicken feet. I turned to a local source of pastured poultry, Afton Field Farm. They only had one bag of the feet left from last year’s processing. Restaurants buy them up for chicken broth. Unfortunately, the feet were freezer-burned because their claws ripped through their plastic bag. That’s why they’re hard to store. I’ll have to go back for fresh ones when chicken slaughtering begins end of May.Prepping the feet is a bit of a potschke. You must par-boil them, chop off the claws at the joint and, with a paring knife, remove any blackish remaining claw pad. The process gets you in touch with your carnivorous–almost cannibal-like–side, given that peeled chicken feet somehow resemble human hands.

But the collagen-rich broth was delicious and as gelatinous as Jello when refrigerated (is that Manischevitz suspends its jarred gefilte in?). I diluted it with peppery chicken-back stock so nothing tasted out of the ordinary. Chicken backs are another great cheap source of stock.

Simmer the prepared feet for several hours.

Strain the stock, and snack on the feet if that's your pleasure. Apparently, babies like them.










The chicken feet stock reminded me so much of wonton soup broth. I had always thought that broth got its richness from  the pork wontons. But now I know it must be from the chicken feet many Chinese restaurants use for broth. If you are eating chicken feet stock out already at restaurants, shouldn’t you try this frugal culinary secret at home? The process does infuse one’s kitchen, hands and clothes with chicken essence, as if you’d doused yourself with chicken oil. Just how braised a ham hock makes one feel you’re sweating pork. It’s all about becoming one with your food.

See, Mikey likes it.

Written by baltimoregon

April 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Enjoyed this, shared on Facebook by Angela Kellner. One of my earliest memories is of going with my mother to the live chicken market in our neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles. You would pick out your bird ‘on the hoof’, then go to the bakery, butcher, dime store, etc. When you returned, the bird had been slaughtered, beheaded, feet chopped off and denailed, pin feathers singed on a big gas flame, and all wrapped in butcher paper. It was not eviscerated–that happened at home and sometimes yielded the unhatched eggs that were boiled in the soup and were such a treat for the lucky child of the day. The feet were also boiled in the soup, and my mother would suck them noisily and happily. I was afraid of the feet as a small child, because the Russian witch Baba Yaga lived in a house that stood on chicken feet. She was not a nice witch and it didn’t help that the house could walk on the feet. All of this was in the mid-40s, when I was 3-4 years old. Who knew you could still buy chicken feet. Thank you.

    Ethel Weltman

    April 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    • Thanks for your comment, Ethel! That’s surreal that the chicken sometimes contained the unhatched eggs. That’s a photo of my 10-month-old sucking on the feet. Most local chicken farmers will sell them to you. They are also often available at Asian markets.


      April 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

  2. Just had my impulse for using chicken feet for stock confirmed by Tamar Adler’s enchanting new celebration of frugal feasts–“An Everlasting Meal.” I also made lamb stock from last week’s leg of lamb I’ve been enjoying with simmered greens and other veg scraps all week.


    April 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm

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