I've always preferred making my own stocks, whether it's chicken, beef, shellfish or vegetable stock. I keep large Ziploc "scrap" bags in my freezer, and toss in vegetable peels and trimmings, as well as vegetables that are starting to look a little sad and past their prime. The other bags get all of the meat bones and carcasses. I absolutely hate wasting food, and love that I can make delicious stock, with more flavor and less sodium/chemicals/other nasties than the storebought kinds, all from items that would ordinarily have been tossed in the garbage.
Once these bags are full, I make stock.
After using several quarts of my last batch of chicken stock for a leftover turkey and lentil soup, I stumbled across Elise's recipe at Simply Recipes for chicken stock....using chicken feet. I'd seen chicken feet at several local Asian and Hispanic markets, so I picked up a 5 lb bag (the only size available) at Birmingham's Super Oriental Market, grabbed my camera, and went to work.
These make me think of dinosaur feet - very prehistoric!
Elise's recipe was easy to follow and yielded an amazing stock; flavorful, concentrated and perfectly gelled due to the collagen in the chicken feet. I made a few changes in the ingredient measurements, but otherwise stuck to her recipe.Chicken Stock from Chicken Feet
adapted from Simply Recipes
2 1/2 lbs chicken feet
2 sweet onions, cut into wedges
3-4 carrots, cut into chunks
1 bundle fresh thyme
10-15 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
The feet I that purchased were partially frozen, so I let them finish thawing while preparing my other ingredients...
I had to go to FOUR grocery stores to find fresh thyme...
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add the feet, and let them boil for 5 minutes. Skim off all of the impurities that rise to the surface, then drain the feet and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle.
Once cooled, cut off the talons and remove any hard callused skin on the foot pad with a paring knife.
After the initial boil, the talons were very easy to cut off...
Place chicken in a clean stockpot and cover by 1" with cold water. Add onion, carrots and celery to the stockpot.
Add the thyme, black peppercorns and bay leaves.
Bring the stock to a simmer, then reduce the heat to just a bare simmer. Place a lid on the pot, leaving a 1/2" - 1" crack. Cook for 4 hours, skimming any scum that may rise to the surface.
Remove the lid and increase the heat slightly to a low simmer. Cook stock, uncovered, for 2 hours to reduce and concentrate the stock.
Once reduced, strain the concentrated stock through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Discard solids and pour the broth into clean jars (I used 3 wide-mouthed pint jars). Let cool.
I used glass since I will use all of this stock within a week. If you plan to freeze yours, use baggies or plastic.
When cooled, skim off any fat from the surface; the feet do not have a lot of fat, so there should be very little to remove.
The chicken stock will congeal as it cools; once the stock has cooled to room temperature, keep it in the refrigerator. Once chilled, the stock will become a firm gel, full of concentrated flavor.
To use the stock, reheat it and thin with a 1:1 ratio of water.
This is by far the best tasting stock I have ever made. Considering the extremely reasonable price of chicken feet (anywhere from $1.25/lb to $1.75/lb here) compared to the expense and bland taste of storebought broths, I will be making this again and again. Luckily, since I purchased 5 lbs of chicken feet, I still have another 2 1/2 lbs in my freezer for the next batch!