Raw Chicken Feet

Have you ever noticed health nuts are evangelists? They’re passionate to the point of tears. I know because I gave birth to one and am married to another.

Our daughter Amy has gone on about the benefits of bone broth so long that my eyes glaze over when she starts. I mean, I’m not totally against anything healthy. I know collagen, phosphorus and magnesium and all that stuff must be important given the amount of breath people use talking about them.

But what I’m really interested in is a great broth/stock for cooking. I use a rich chicken stock for any savory recipe that calls for water such as rice, stews, soups, etc. It adds soooo much flavor to food, and according to Amy, scads of nutrition. (She suggested I drink a cup of it for my fussy stomach, and I hate to admit it, but it really helps.)

When I heard someone talking about using chicken feet to make broth, I did a little research. Turns out, they have more collagen, cartilage and bone than any other parts. So I decided to give it a try.

I should tell you, if you decide to try it—don’t bother going to any of the major grocery stores, like Whole Foods or Kroger. They’ll look at you like you’re speaking Russian. (Ask me how I know.)

The only place I’ve found them is at Walmart. I’d never really seen chicken feet except on the chickens walking around at my grandmother’s well over a half-century ago. So, when I picked up a package, at Walmart, I gasped. (Amy threatened to claim she didn’t know me if I put a pic online, but if you really want to see what a package looks like, click here.) They have fingernails! Really. And they’re nicer than mine, like the little creatures get manicures. But no matter how nice their nails are, they looked awful. I had to place them face down in my cart to check out. I appreciate the euphemistic name Walmart gave them—Chicken Paws.

All that said, they made the absolute, beyond any doubt, best chicken stock I’ve ever used. It’s like stock on steroids and gives anything I add it to a luxurious taste and texture. Last night I made a sauce to go over chicken, using broth instead of water. It was as silky and rich as a cream sauce.

And they’re dirt cheap. The package above costs $1.82 and made 4 quarts of high-quality stock.

If you’re interested in how I make bone broth with them, here’s the recipe. (But, really, it’s not rocket science.)

  • 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

There’s no need to dice the veggies. We’re just getting the flavor out of them and will throw all the solids away when the broth is finished. I use an instant pot, but you can also cook them on the stove at a very low temp for about 24 hours.

Fill the pot to the max level fill line, lock the lid and flip the valve to seal. Set the instant pot to low pressure for 3 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can use high pressure for 2 hours, then let it natural release, strain and either refrigerate or freeze the broth.

I always throw any extra chicken bones I have into the freezer then when I’m making broth, add them to the pot. You can do the same for bits of celery, onion and carrots. You can also add fresh herbs and your favorite seasonings. I generally don’t because I use it in different recipes and add the seasonings as I go.

Voila! You’re all done. Now you can enjoy the benefits.