Chicken feet. The feets of the chicken. Boys and girls, that's what we're talking about today.
Now, don’t go gettin’ all grossed out. Y’all are familiar with our ideals for our farm. Nothing gets wasted.
And why on Earth Americans wasted these wonderful morsels is beyond me. We’ll eat fast food but we won’t simmer chicken feet for stock? Fu-get-about-it.
Why You Should Be Eating Chicken Feet
Because your body needs lots of vitamins, trace minerals, collagen, and calcium. That's why.
Most of us are familiar with the health benefits of homemade bone broth. Truly, as a real food enthusiast, I cannot stress the importance of drinking bone broth enough. It should be everyone’s ‘bread and butter’. A staple. A companion that lives long by your side. “In most every culture throughout history has used bone broth for its nutritional significance, versatility and overall deliciousness. Chinese medicine practitioners use bone broth to strengthen the kidney, support digestive systems and build blood. The term“Jewish penicillin” is used for chicken soup, known to inhibit cell inflammation and mitigate cold symptoms. And the English sip beef tea, or beef broth, used since the Victorian era.”
Bone broth has been known for centuries to aid in joint health, immunity, gut health, and more. Nutrients are pulled from the bones and cartilage, slowly swirling into a liquid gold – rich in vitamins, minerals, and feel good-ness.
Yes, feel good-ness is a technical medical term. I looked it up…
Bone marrow carries oxygen to our to our cells. Collagen builds the cells in our brains and bones. It rebuilds damaged cells in our intestines.
It is, truly, natural’s super-supplement.
Adding chicken feet to that pot ‘o stock ups the anty. Chicken foot stock is like stock on steroids. Chicken feet are comprised of entirely bones, tendons, and cartilage. Gross, right?
I mean, sure, yes – gross. But what our bodies can pull from those feet nutritionally is pure magic. Track minerals and calcium dance like sugar plums in our bowls. If you want to heal yourself from the outside in, start with chicken foot bone broth.
How To Peel Chicken Feet
We peel chicken feet for a couple of reasons. First, the chickens (naturally) get poo on their feet. We don’t want poo in our stock. And thus, we peel. Second, the skin can tend to give the stock a bit of an ‘off’ taste. Being a minimalist, I tried to skip this step a few times until I realized that it really does create a funky taste in the stock if we leave too much of the skin on. And thus, we peel some more.
Because we raise our own meat chickens here on the farm, twice per year, we’re left with fifty or so chicken feet. At butchering, I simply throw them into a plastic bag and freeze them. Each week, I pull a small handful of feet from the bag and prepare them to be utilized in my weekly stock pot. Preparation is easy, albeight a bit grizzly. Here’s how I peel my chicken feet. (Also, just to make sure you didn't miss it: I boiled this process down and put it on a one-page recipe card for readers of this post. Get that Recipe Card here.
1. Place the chicken feet into a pot. Add enough filtered water to cover them (if a few toes are stickin’ out, that’s fine.)
2. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a low simmer. Simmer the feet for 10 minutes.
3. After simmering, quickly move the pot over to your kitchen sink and run cold water onto the feet. Keep running the water for a few minutes, allowing the feet to ‘blanch’ in a way.
4. Drain the water and move the pot of feet over to your counter. Using your fingers (the best tools ever created!) begin to peel away the skin. It’s a bit slippery – but that’s okay. Just dig in there and go for it. I find that a twist and pull method seems to work best on the toes. Some people leave the toes on. Some clip them off. Do what you wish.
Personally, I’m a toes on kinda gal. Mostly because I’m lazy. I’m also not a perfectionist when it comes to this task. I don’t mind a few bits here and there.
As you can tell.
These feet can be simmered alone with a tablespoon of vinegar, a chopped onion, a few stocks of celery, and a few carrot sticks to make a beautiful chicken foot stock. I, personally, like to add 3 or 4 feet into my normal chicken stock. This enables to get all those rich nutrients from the feet and since I’m also utilizing a chicken carcass, spread out that goodness throughout the whole year.
When I run out of chicken feet, it’s a sad day on the farm. Girlfriends gotta protect herself from such heartache.
And thus, ration we must.
I’m sorry for saying ‘and thus’ so many times in this post. It just seems so fitting.
And thus, I say it.
See what I mean? Wait, what were we talking about? Chicken feet? Ah, yes.
Chicken feet are widely available – from your grocery store, to a butcher, to your local chicken farmer. Finding a source should be fairly easy. I recommend you keep some in your freezer at all time! When sickness creeps in, stick a few extra into your stock pot or into your chicken soup. Your body will love you for it.
I don’t want to hear that you think they’re gross. They’re a rich form of nutrients that is widely underutilized and wasted. And, if you remember this post (Eww! You eat WHAT?!) you’ll know how I feel about it all anyway.
Wishing you many happy days filled with chicken feet.
For other great meal ideas, no matter what your dietary restrictions, check out the meal planning service I use: Real Plans.
Check out some of my other chicken posts:
- Building a Chicken Run
- How to Cut up a Whole Chicken
- Homemade Chicken Stock
- How to Butcher a Chicken