In this simple tutorial, you’ll learn how to prepare and use chicken feet for soup stock! The process takes time, but the end result makes it all worthwhile, yielding a gelatinous, mild flavored broth.
Are you ready for this one?
Why Use Chicken Feet?
Chicken feet are full of bones, tendons and actually contain a bit of meat and fat as well. For this reason, they make an exceptionally rich soup stock, one that is loaded with collagen.
What’s so important about collagen? It supports the human body in every way! If you want more information on collagen, I recommend reading this article by Katie of Wellness Mama.
How to Find Time For Feet On Butchering Day
There’s rarely time to process chicken feet on butchering day. Instead of adding one more thing to your ‘to do’ list, feet can be tossed into a bucket at the processing station. Once you’re finished gutting the birds, feet can be soaked in water for 5 minutes, then scrubbed and sprayed clean.
Bag the feet and freeze until you have both time and energy to deal with them!
How to Prepare and Use Chicken Feet
Preparing chicken feet for soup stock is very simple. But it will take time! Make sure you have a few hours to dedicate to process if you’re doing 30-40 at one time.
Thaw The Feet
Pull the clean feet out of the freezer and let them thaw. Give everything a second rinse and (if desired) clip the toenails off with pruning shears. Some folks even take the toes off at the first joint!
Why? Because depending on the bird’s living situation and claw shape, it can be difficult to clean under the bird’s claws!
Technique #1: How to Peel Chicken Feet
NOTE: tackle this technique only when you have several hours of time at your disposal.
Place the clean chicken feet in a pot and cover with water. Better yet, use a stockpot that has a colander/blanching insert! Bring chicken feet to a boil and simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
Remove feet from pot and instantly submerge in a cold water bath. Once they’re cool enough to handle, it’s time to go to work!
Start peeling the skin on the topside of the bird’s foot. Work downward, toward the goes. And if you find the toes are too bothersome, you can cut them off.
The outer skin is paper-like and colored according to the bird’s breed. Ideally, this is the only part you would remove. However, if you blanche the feet for too long, you’ll find the papery skin coming off with a somewhat fatty sub layer.
Don’t worry about being too precise. A bit of skin always makes way into the stockpot. And that’s ok.
Once the job is complete, cover feet in water and simmer for 12-24 hrs on the stove top. Or pop them into a crock pot if you are so inclined, giving them 2 days of slow simmering.
Don’t like the thought of so much work? Try this second technique!
Technique #2: How to Skip the Peeling Process
This second method enables you to skip over the skin peeling but it takes more water. I highly recommend using a pot with a fitted colander!
Add feet to boiling water and let them simmer for 3-5 minutes. Lift the colander and remove feet. Set them aside. Refresh water in the pot and set it to boil once again. Rinse feet clean while you’re waiting.
Once the pot boils, return the feet to it and boil for another 3-5 minutes. Regardless of what color they were, feet should be turning the same, bland gray at the end of the second blanching process.
Repeat the process one more time by removing the feet, refreshing the pot, setting it to boil and sending the feet through another 3-5 minute cycle. The fourth time, the feet stay in the pot and should be cooked down for 12-24 hours.
If you do this, you can skip the peeling process and will avoid the strange “off” flavor that the skin lends itself to!
Strain The Broth
Once you have simmered the feet for 12-24 hours, the liquid should be strained through a cloth or tightly-woven colander. If you left toes intact, there will be lots of tiny, disjointed toe bones on the bottom of your chicken foot broth!
You don’t want to accidentally choke someone. Be sure to strain it well!
How to Use Prepared Chicken Foot Broth
The clear chicken foot broth can be salted (if desired) then refrigerated, frozen or pressure canned until ready to use. If you just refrigerate this broth, know that it will turn to jelly! Here’s proof from my kitchen!
This broth can be used in the same manner you would use chicken stock. Just remember it doesn’t have much flavor, that you’ll have to create it’s flavor profile with the addition of meat, herbs and spices.
We can hardly keep broth (chicken foot or not) on the canning shelf! Yes, even when I make 40+ quarts a year! It’s a well-loved commodity in our home, particularly during the winter months. There’s nothing like a cup of hot chicken stock to warm both hands and stomach!
Now that you know how to prepare and use chicken feet, what do you think? Will you give it a try?