How to Make Stock from Chicken Feet

Recently my father announced that he missed chicken feet. (What?!) His mother, my grandmother who was born in 1899 and lived to the age of 97, used chicken feet when she made her stock and my dad could always tell when a soup had been made with stock from chicken feet. It has its own unique and wonderful flavor, and the added gelatin from the feet give whatever dish is made with the stock a luxurious feeling when eating it.

The “Eww” factor of chicken feet I think comes from the fact that chicken feet look a lot like our hands. Silly eh? Especially when we consider that making stock from chicken feet has been a human activity for thousands of years. Most of our grandmothers or great grandmothers used feet in their stock as a matter of fact. They would laugh at us today to see us cringe. Stock made from chicken feet is fabulous, and incredibly good for you with all that gelatin.

How to Make Stock with Chicken Feet

After a lot of digging, I found a few old recipes. All recipes call for boiling the feet first, and then draining the boiling water. I think the point of this step is to get most of the extra protein and impurities to leave the feet and come to the surface. Another step that all the old recipes take is to cut off the claw tips. I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing that by cutting off the tips of the toes, it’s easier for the marrow and therefore the gelatin in the bones to come out.

Expect to get a lot of stock out of the chicken feet. A pound of feet will yield about a quart of stock, pretty much a bargain at $1 a pound for feet. Where to find chicken feet? Probably the best place to look is in Chinese or Asian markets. In Sacramento, the best place to get chicken feet is at the American Poultry Company at 5th and Broadway.

How to Make Stock from Chicken Feet

  • Yield: Makes approximately 2 quarts
Yum

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of chicken feet
  • 2 large carrots, cut in half
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 celery ribs, cut in half
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 peppercorns

Method

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1 Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Put the chicken feet into a large stock pot and cover with boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes. Use a large metal spoon to skim and discard the scum that rises to the surface.

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2 Drain the chicken feet completely. Rinse with cold water so that the feet are cool enough to handle. Using a sharp knife, chop off the tips of the claws and discard. They should cut easily if you cut them through the joint. If any rough patches of claw pad remain, cut them away with a paring knife.

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3 Place chicken feet in a clean large stockpot. Fill with cold water to cover the feet by an inch. Add carrots, onions, celery, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer, immediately reduce the temperature to low. Partially cover, leave about a half inch crack or so, and keep the stock cooking at a bare simmer, for 4 hours. Occasionally skim any foam that may come to the surface.

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4 Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a low simmer with the pot now uncovered. Continue to cook for an hour or two. At this point you are reducing the stock so that it is easier to store. Strain the stock through several layers of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer (ideally both) into a pot. Pour into quart-sized jars. Let cool for an hour or so before storing in the refrigerator.

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When your stock has cooled, it should firm up nicely into a gel.

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Links:

Chicken feet make me dance for joy by Derrick Schneider of Obsession with Food

Demi-glace recipe made with chicken feet from Hertzmann

Why did the chicken cross the road? - "So you wouldn’t wack off its feet and make chicken stock!", Just the Right Size cooks up a batch of chicken feet stock

Showing 4 of 134 Comments

  • Margaret

    Where can you get chicken feet these days? Especially here in Sacramento. I thought it was illegal to sell them. I love chicken feet. My mom used to put them in her chicken soup all the time when I was a child.

    The American Poultry Company on Broadway at 3rd in Sacramento is where I got these. ~Elise

  • Sun

    I definitely plan on trying this recipe this weekend, but I won’t deny the idea of touching chicken feet still makes me cringe a bit. Not sure how I’m going to pull this off.

    BUT… GREAT recipe and thank you for it! You’re absolutely right. I can’t believe we let chicken feet go to waste!

  • Carol Shani

    My grandmother came from Poland to Canada in the 1920’s. One of my warmest memories (in the 50’s and 60’s)of her home was soup from chicken feet (she didn’t use the bay leaf or the peppercorns). And we always “stole” the cooked feet afteward to suck on.
    You’re right: it has an absolutely unique flavour and is truly delicious.
    Thanks for memories!

  • CJ

    Wow, talk about a blast from the past.

    Every time I tell anyone about using feet they look at me like I’m crazy. I remember my grandmother and great aunts making soup from chicken feet too. It was the richest, most flavorful stock you can imagine.

    For any readers that are skeptical, don’t be. It’s the most luxurious broth you’ll ever have.

    Thanks Elise. This brings back many happy childhood memories and a hankering for that great broth too!

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