Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tips | Chicken Feet and other Broth Adventures

I love to have broth on hand at all times. It's great for making soup, but also wonderful to have to cook rice in, add to stir fry sauce, mash into veggies. Broth is a great way to add some subtle flavour to all my cooking. Vegetable broth and chicken broth are my favourites, and today we are going to talk about chicken. Because seriously? I still have a freezer full of them.

I've posted this link before, but it's a great read on how to get the most out of meat based broths: Broth is Beautiful by Sally Fallon.

Here are some quick brothy tips:

- You can make broth using a whole frozen chicken. Just put the frozen chicken into a large pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer. When it's finished you have to pull the chicken out (in many pieces by this point), strain the broth and seperate the meat from the carcass. Either throw the meat back in for soup or use it seperatly.

- You can also make broth with a roasted chicken, including the pre-cooked roitisery style ones. This is really easy it you have one of those big stock pots with the couldendar that fits inside. First remove the meat, if you want to have it in the soup put it in the bottom of the pot, then put the carcass in the colendar and set it in the pot. Fill with water and simmer. When you are finished you can just pull the colendar out, carcass and all and you're done. Easy Peasy.

- Cook your chicken broth for at least 8 hours, this allows the gelatin and goodness to fully come out of the bones. I simmer it overnight. Some people like slow cookers for this.

- Add a small slosh of vinegar, this allows the calcium to be more fully extracted. It doesn't affect the taste.

- If you are making broth to cook with, it's nice to add some veggies while you are cooking. Onions, carrots, celery and parsley are traditional. Just strain them out when you are done because they will be fully dead. I don't do this for soup however, I'll share my soup recipe with you all tomorrow.

- Always skim the impurities off the top and/or strain through cheesecloth. No yuckies in my broth, thanks!

- If you are able to get the neck and feet, throw them in too. The feet add a lot of gelatiny goodness to the broth.

What? Chicken feet?

That's right, I went there.

See I had already read Broth is Beautiful before we did up the chickens last weekend. While I was not totally convinced that chicken feet should count as food (because...ew!), it just seemed like a waste to throw them out. I mean there they were, in all their chicken feety I decided to give it a try. I convinced Barb to join in my with the experiment although our mothers both remain unconvinced.

So if you are feeling brave, and can get some chicken feet (ask your butcher apparently...) here's what you do with them.

- First they get a pedicure. Wash them with a salt rub to get the gross off. Then cut off the toenails. Barb found that kitchen shears were best for this although a knife workds. Not toenail clippers, in case that crossed your mind.

- Then in small batches, one at a time even, blanch the feet in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then when you pull them out quickly peel the skin off. It's pretty easy.

- Either make chicken foot soup...or stewed chicken feet...or just throw two per chicken in with your carcass to make broth and strain them out with the bones later. I did the latter. Because I am chicken.