Homemade broths are both nutritious and a delicious base for all sorts of soups, stews, and sauces and the best ones are really thick…gelatinous…when cold. But what is the secret to making really gelatinous broth? Well…I was on a mission to find out.
The Secret is in the Feet
When I first started making homemade chicken broth I never used chicken feet. I wouldn’t have even known where to find them let alone cook with them! But then I learned from Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, that to make great chicken broth, I was going to need feet!*
So, I set out to find some feet…chicken feet. And I found them. But I was horrified by what I found. They looked like alien hands! And I was befret with great trepidation about putting anything that looked like ET’s hand’s into my stock pot.
A Pharmacy in a Bowl
However, along with my first bag of feet came a delightful little note of explanation from the farmer that started with…”What to do now that you have your chicken feet…” which gave me the courage to put them into my stock pot knowing that I would be able to create a very nutritious gelatinous brew.
As I had learned from Sally Fallon’s book, gelatinous is what you want. It was the go-to-food of our ancestors when anyone was sick. Basically a pharmacy in a bowl. Ever heard of Jewish Penicillin? It’s chicken soup made from homemade chicken broth. It’s the gelatin in the broth that’s great for your insides as well as your outsides. Gelatinous stock soothes both tummy…and skin.
…And Even Wrinkles Will Disappear
It’s even been rumored that bone broths can lessen wrinkles! Makes sense. All that gelatin in a well made broth represents collagen that has been melted away from the bones after long hours of simmering. As I have now passed the half century mark, the promise of the lessening of wrinkles sealed the deal for me.
And So It Begins…
So into my stock-pot went the chicken feet, along with the carcass of my roasted chicken, a few extra chicken backs and necks, a bit of vinegar, celery, onions, carrots, a handful of peppercorns, and a bay leaf…and enough water to cover everything.
As an aside…I hesitate to try and give any hard and fast recipe for broth as I do not want to constrain one’s creativity! Truth be told, although we may find a plethora of recipes for homemade broth …there really is no need for one. If you’ve got a bit of meat, some bones, a few veggie scraps, an acid, and some water, you can make broth. All it takes is learning a few basics, using what you have on hand, and a little bit of common sense.
First, I let my mixture soak in the vinegared-water for about an hour which is suppose to leach the calcium out of the chicken bones and impart it into the broth. (I only add about a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar). So that the broth will be nicely gelled, I don’t add an excessive amount of water – - – just enough to cover everything. Next, I turned on the stove, brought the whole thing to a boil, skimed off any foam that rose to the top, turned the heat down to low, and let it simmer the entire day.
At days end, I spooned out all the solids, strained the broth through a cheesecloth lined colander, then refrigerated it so it could cool and the fat could rise to the top.
Once cooled, I removed the chicken fat on the top…saving it for another day…and this is what I found…
A glorious gelatinous chicken broth ready for a host of uses. And the taste? Once warmed it was yummy!
Ready to Make your Own?
If you’d like to give making chicken stock with chicken feet a whirl, you can check out your local farmer’s market or ask around at local farms in your area. You can also order chicken feet online at US Wellness Meats.
*OK…but what if you’re simply not interested in working with chicken feet? When it comes to all this alternative food prep…what have I said in the past…Don’t worry. There’s good news! Chicken necks and backs work well too for making a gelatinous and nutritious stock…and they are a lot easier to find at the grocery store.