Most meat eaters I know don’t like to think about the fact that they are chewing on an actual animal when eating their steak or chicken breast. Many are put off by biting into cartilage or seeing a stray feather on their supermarket bird. Needless to say, when it comes to chicken feet they are simply repulsed. I was originally part of this crowd as well. But after exposure to the amazing flavor and texture they add to soup… I couldn’t help but be hooked! Our culture’s rejection of this part of our birds has cost us a great deal: not only in flavor, but also in nutritive value. I want to challenge all my readers to expand their horizons. Power through your initial rejection, and a land of thick, divine chicken soup awaits you!
I started using chicken feet in my soups around high holidays. I had been collecting them since I started shechting almost 2 years ago and there were two huge ziplock bags of chicken and turkey feet sitting in my freezer, but I couldn’t stomach doing anything with them. My good friend Mitten eventually convinced me to make foot stock, and finally one night I had dozens of chicken and turkey feet defrosting in my kitchen sink. The thick soup I made from the stock was a huge hit, with even some staunch vegetarians sneaking a bite. Chicken feet help thicken soup because they contain gelatin which is a great thickener, as in Jell-O, but also acts as an amazing digestive aid. They also have phosphorus, glucosamine and a myriad or other minerals which support bone and joint health.* Powering through your initial disgust will not only help your soup taste amazing it will also be beneficial to your health.
Since we sell most of our chicken feet to China, it’s pretty hard to find them in the United States today, but if you live in Israel kosher feet can be purchase them at most butchers. I have found one American website selling kosher chicken feet and non-kosher feet are available in some Asian and farmers markets. The only catch is that the most common welfare problem for modern factory farm chickens involves their feet. Because they grow so fast they often have severe foot and joint pain with many even going lame. All of this pain and swelling in the legs cannot bode well for the quality of this food stuff, so heritage chicken feet are most recommended.
So we’ve established that chicken feet are healthy and delicious. But the biggest reason I want people to eat this food is so that we can be more connected to the animals we consume as whole creatures. We have become so sheltered that the thought of meat coming from an animal which was killed, cut up, and processed is hard for most to stomach. I don’t think everybody needs to be as comfortable with this process as I am, but I do think it would be good for everyone to push themselves at least a little. This small step can help one become more connected to their food and help us get one step closer to fixing our broken food system.
About the blog:
Welcome to The Kosher Omnivore's Quest! My old blog on kosher slaughter, kosher meat, and animal welfare. For new content check out my new website, The Kosher Cut™. There you'll find: blog posts about shechita and related topics, educational slaughter presentations, kosher slaughter training, and a selection of high quality professional kosher slaughter equipment.