I finally did it. By “it” I mean I finally made chicken stock from feet. After five years of hemming and hawing, researching and hesitating and staring at bags of chicken feet in the fridge it was time. The husband was butchering fifty Cornish cross chickens and it was now or never.
If you have always wanted to make home-made stock from chicken feet read on:
First you have to source your chicken feet. For me that meant telling the husband to save the feet. No tossing them out to the livestock dogs. So get yourself some feet. I ended up with twenty-four pairs of feet or 4.5lbs. Rinse them under cool water. Our chickens are raised on pasture so they walk around on dirt, grass and even chicken poop. You might be able to skip this step depending on where you source your feet. Being the farmer I get to work with the real deal.
Next fill a pot with water and get it simmering. You’re going to swish the feet in the water a couple at a time. Don’t let it boil, you don’t want to cook the feet.
Now is the fun part. Pull the foot out and either rub or pull the skin down all the way to the toes. It should peel right off like a glove. If it doesn’t peel easily just dip it back in the simmering water and swish it around again. Once it’s peeled you need to decide about the toenails. You can leave them on or pop them off. To pop them off just give a little squeeze. Pop! Kind of like popping bubble wrap…I told you this was fun.
After all of the feet are peeled you’re going to dump them into a stock pot. You do have a stock pot, right? Add enough water to cover the feet. I used five quarts. Add two TB of vinegar for every four quarts of water. I used white vinegar but cider vinegar will work fine too. The vinegar will help pull the nutrients out of the bones. Let it rest for about thirty minutes.
Chop up an onion, a few ribs of celery, a handful of garlic cloves- we eat a lot of garlic so plan accordingly, toss it all into the pot with the chicken feet. Throw in about ten peppercorns. Bring the pot to a boil, then immediately turn down the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for at least twelve hours. Every now and then stir it around. Towards the end of the twelve hours you will see the feet have pulled apart, releasing lots of fat.
Remove from the heat and strain off the solids. I worked in batches using a slotted spoon and mesh strainer over a bowl. Once the liquid has been separated you have to decide if you are going to keep the fat or skim it off. I kept the fat. To skim it off, put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning you will be able to skim off the top layer of fat. For storage, you can freeze it or pressure can it. I opted to pressure can because I love to hear the lids ping.
I ended up with four and a half quarts of the most amazingly rich, and dark stock ever. It looked nothing like the pale stock that you buy at the store. And even better- no sodium, no preservatives, no garbage. Just succulent stock from pastured chickens. I like using my stock to boil potatoes or as a base for soups. It’s nice to be able to season my stock for individual recipes.
So there you have it. Chicken feet stock- it’s what’s for dinner.