Snaggled, snarled and spiked, chicken feet prove good ingredients don't have to come in pretty packages. Boiled chicken feet render a stock so rich it hardens into gelatin you can cut with a knife. Frying the chicken feet after boiling them gives them a texture similar to pork cracklings or chicharrones – crispy on the outside and chewy in the inside. You have the best shot of getting fresh chicken feet at Asian markets or butcher shops.
Blanch the feet in a stockpot of boiling water for 10 minutes and drain them in a colander. Skim the froth surface of the water as needed, which is almost constantly with chicken feet.
Drain the feet in a colander and rinse them under cold running water for a few minutes. Drain the chicken feet again.
Cut off the tips of the toes at the first joint. Place the feet back in the stockpot.
Add a cup of mirepoix -- 2 parts chopped onions to 1 part each chopped carrots and celery -- to the stockpot for every pound of chicken feet.
Add basic stock aromatics, like a few black peppercorns, a handful of parsley steams and a couple bay leaves, to the stockpot.
Cover the feet with about 1 inch of cold water and bring it to a simmer on the stove.
Simmer the chicken feet for about 3 or 4 hours. Drain the stock into a storage container through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Discard the aromatics and reserve the chicken feet.
Serve the chicken feet as is or let them air dry and cool to room temperature. You can season the feet to taste with kosher salt and saute them until dark golden brown, or bread them and deep-fry them in 350-degree Fahrenheit oil. Use the reserved stock for soups and sauces.
- You need 1/2 pound of chicken feet to make 1/2 quart of stock.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.