According to Julia Child, French chefs, and traditional foodies, the absolute best chicken stock that can be made includes chicken feet. It, supposedly, adds a depth of flavor and a huge amount of gelatin (for superior stocks) that footless stocks just can't match.
You can't exactly waltz down to the grocery store and come back with chicken feet, though.
So I'll admit it... the awful truth... ever since I saw Julia Child make her stock with chicken feet I've been waiting for one of my laying hens to die.
Rather than one of the cannibal biddies, though, unfortunately the first one to bite the dust was Howard. You may remember our Polish Crested rooster from this post. He was a cocky little crower, but he crowed his last earlier this week when he was run over by the moving coop. RIP Howard.
My husband did the thankless task of plucking and gutting, and brought Howard home for me to stew... feet included.
Let me tell you... nothing I read about the delights of French cooking prepared me for the NIGHTMARISH experience of actually skinning chicken feet!!!
The how-to is easy enough. You boil the feet for about 1 or 2 minutes and then plunge them into cold water. Supposedly the skin slips off just like on a tomato. BUT THEY FAILED TO MENTION THAT IT GETS CAUGHT ON THE TOENAILS! EEEEEEWW!!!!!
I called my father for moral support. I was so grateful that he didn't laugh at me when I told him I was skinning chicken feet. He held my hand over the phone and without him I don't think I could have done it.
Think I'm exaggerating the grossness? Feast your eyes on this:
Those, dear ladies, are Howard's skinned feet (stewed for 24 hours).
I don't think any soup on earth could be worth the horror of peeling a chicken foot and having the claw come back to clench your finger as you drop its snake-like shedded skin.
This soup had darned better be worth it.
Farm life initiation lesson 436: complete.