Chicken Feet (Eeek!)
Chicken feet are a phenomenal source of gelatin, but they can be a little intimidating at first. Fear not. Once you work with chicken feet a few times, it's not too bad. My method for preparing chicken feet (for use in Homemade Chicken Stock) is adapted from Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon Morrell. I'm including a bunch of pictures at the end of the recipe, so you can get a quick overview.
Chicken feet from your local farmer
In a stockpot, bring a good amount of water to a rolling boil. While waiting for the water to boil, rub the chicken feet with salt. (Please note: I like to wear gloves when handling raw meat products, to prevent the very small chance of acquiring a MRSA infection through the skin. Obviously if your meat comes from a farm where you know exactly how that animal was raised, the risk of this (I would think) would be next to none.)
Next, drop the chicken feet into the boiling water. Allow to blanch for about 1 minute once the water has returned to a boil. Remove with tongs, and place in a bowl of ice water. Once they're cool enough to handle, use sharp kitchen scissors to cut off the pointy little toenails at the first joint, as shown in the picture gallery, below. Channel your inner Mad Scientist, as needed.
Finally, gently peel the rough skin of the feet off, starting at the base of each toe and pulling the skin off over the end. Watch your fingers as there may be bits of sharp exposed bone where you just cut the toenail off! Think of it like peeling the shell off a hard-boiled egg, and you've got the general idea. Sometimes, you'll notice a dark-colored patch on what's the "pad" of the chicken foot...I don't know what that is (have to ask my local farmer), but I usually cut it off with kitchen scissors...comes right off easily.
The chicken feet are now all ready to go into your stockpot for chicken broth! Leave them in the stock until ready to serve, when they can be discarded.
photo gallery (Please Click to enlarge)
Please note: the chicken feet in this gallery were pretty much already "dressed" by the butcher, which was nice of them! Some come with a whole lot more yellow skin on than the ones shown here. I'm just using these guys as an example. Also, I was out of ice cubes the day I took these...you can just use cold water to blanch the feet if you don't have ice handy. Use kitchen scissors, not the knife shown in the photos...I changed tactics mid-stream when Hubby, who was taking the photos, said, "why not use scissors?" I agreed. It worked.