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Stock from whole chicken vs. from just chicken feet

I've only seen one recipe for making stock just from chicken feet (hey, I have a big package of them). Would using just chicken feet (and some spices and herbs/veggies) really work or would I end up with a gloopy, gelatinous mess at the end?

Alternately, I can use a stewing chicken from the grocer and add *some* feet (how many?!) ... what would you do?

Bonus question: Some of the stock-making recipes I see talk about 6-8 hours of simmering. At that point, wouldn't any meat from a stewing chicken (not talking about the feet) be pretty useless, or is there still any taste left that lets you use it in other things?

The stock will be more for Asian soups than other kinds, so I won't be adding rosemary, etc. More likely a little lemongrass and things like that.

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  1. There was a previous thread dealing with making stock. Applehome believes that the way to make stock is with whole chicken cooked long enough that you essentially have to toss it when done. I make my stock with the bones from roasted chickens and with the feet. I use lots of water and cook very slowy and low. This takes time and includes clarification using an egg white raft. I use this for European and some Asian clear soups, for clear sauces, and the like.

    But now and then I do make a quick stock from just the feet, necks, livers, and gizzards - eating everything but the feet after 20 minutes and letting the feet go for a total of maybe 45 minutes. What you get is a lot of collegen (what you call a "gloopy, gelatinous mess"). I use little water and want the gloop. It a very nice ingredient in a lot of my Asian cooking - as a backdrop to stir-frys in some thicker sauces, and other dishes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Ah, OK, so while I can thin said gloop a little with water for actual soup, I can pretty much add it for chicken flavor and to thicken up whatever else I'm making? That sounds very workable.

      1. re: Cinnamon

        When you heat the gloop, it goes into a nice liquid form. Just full and unctuous. It is also concentrated and can be thinned as you say. Gloop is a really great product.

    2. The feet give extra gloopiness -something I am in favour of as you can always dilute it to the requisite glutinosity. Be aware though that the feet give it a more gamey flavour. That's probably not the right word, but I am trying to convey a distinctive odour and flavour.

      1. Just got two roasting chickens. They came with three sets of of the good stuff. Tomorrow I'm going to make black beans and will simply dice the gizzards and livers, toss in the feet and necks, and add in some of the long bones from my last roasted chickens - along with a diced potato and onion plus seasoning. I'll eventually fish the feet and bones out and discard; and puree a part of the beans to add back. Makes great beans!

        1. Use both -- both the whole chicken and extra feet.

          The chicken provides the stock with flavor and umami, while the feet will add additional texture and that gelatinous-y goodness.

          As to what to do with the leftover chicken meat, you can use it in fajitas, tacos, casserole, or just toss it and make into chicken salad.

          One thing you can do to limit drying out the meat while your stock simmers for the requisite 6-8 hours, is to take out the meat (sort of "de-meating" the chicken) after about 4 hours of simmering. Then let the stock simmer for another 4 hours with just the carcass and the feet.

          1. I usually use a couple of cut up chicken carcasses from roast chickens, and throw in some chicken feet. I usually simmer for about an hour or so only. When I have used a whole chicken for whatever reason, I cut it up so that I have two breasts, and then remove them after 20 minutes or so, remove the meat from the bones, and throw the bones back in. A tip that I love from Julia Child - when you start the stock, just put in the chicken pieces, cover with cold water, add a little salt and barely bring to a boil, skimming off the scum that accumulates. Once the scum doesn't accumulate anymore, then add the aromatics etc. and simmer gently. That way, when you are removing the scum, you aren't removing the aromatics to which sticks as well.

            When I make stock for various purposes, I made a rather plain one (onions, carrots, celery, parsley stems, some peppercorns) and then, when I want to use it for a certain recipe, if called for, I'll simmer the stock with, for example, Asian ingredients for about 30 minutes. I've never put rosemary in as I've read that that can give the stock an odd flavour.

            1. Interesting ... Alot of people make their stock from roasted chickens. I've always made mine from whole raw chicken carcasses. Is the flavour different?

              5 Replies
              1. re: Tsar_Pushka

                Some recipes call for roasting raw carcasses. I use the roasted ones just for the sake of economy. I don't know how the flavour varies, and would be interested in knowing that as well.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  There have been some great soup recipes with roasted beef bones specifically, and I find that pretty rich and toasty, but not sure about chicken.

                  (The beef recipe also had you toast the star anise, some other spices and onion, and eventually it ends up like a pho but darker and richer.)

                  1. re: Cinnamon

                    I've made faux pho chicken broth - also using the toasted star anise etc. I don't think that using the carcass of a roast chicken has the same taste as using roasted ones - b/c the bones etc. in the roast chicken don't really get roasted.

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    I usually make chicken stock from raw necks, backs, and other odd parts. It has a cleaner, fresher taste than stock from roasted bones or roasted chickens.

                    I roast the bones for beef stock for a deeper flavor.

                    Veal bones I don't roast usually, because a white veal stock can be used for more things than a roasted veal stock.

                    I've usually got all three in the freezer, so a chicken stock from raw bones is more of a contrast to beef stock from roasted bones than chicken stock with roasted bones would be. Some people even substitute chicken stock from roasted bones for beef stock in brown sauces.

                2. I believe that making light colored stock from raw chicken and dark colored stock from cooked carcasses are both considered acceptable ways to make chicken stock in different cultures and for different recipes. I'm sure there is a whole range of everything in between, including Sam's cooked carcass + raw feet, that comes out perfectly delicious.

                  The addition of raw feet and/or chicken wings (esp the tips) creates a greater ratio of gelatin which adds both flavor and unctuous mouthfeel - not necessarily acceptable for all uses of stock, but good for most applications.

                  i went on a chicken soup/stock quest several years ago after enjoying the world's most delicious chicken soups 1) at a deli in Brooklyn (I think it was at Junior's, but I'm not sure any more), and 2) at a local Sichuan place when they first opened. My personal conclusion was that the most absolutely important thing was that it had to be made from a raw fowl - and that's very, very important - the difference between a Purdue/Tyson roaster and a fowl is night and day in terms of true chickeny flavor that gets into the broth. If you're using a bland, big breast chicken from these chicken farms that was killed at the earliest possible marketing date, you might as well be drinking water - it's that much of a difference. Whether for Asian cuisine or Jewish or anything else, the ultimate chickeny-ness is what's important. You can add all kinds of flavors, but if you don't start with a strong chicken base, you have nada. These fowls are typically laying hens that have quit laying. They're large and sinewy and somewhat lean, and are no good for eating simply - but they're perfect for stewing (coq au vin) or stock.

                  Around here, I can get fowl (cut-up and whole - although they charge more to cut it up, something I can do in seconds), at the local supermaket, Demoulas' Market Basket, if I go to a specific store on Wednesday tilll Friday. It's the store that serves the hispanic area in Lowell, MA. By the weekend, their supply is gone. They used to carry it in some of the outlying stores, but obviously never had a market for it, as they quit doing so. It's too bad that the majority of Americans have bought into the Purdue/Tyson factory farming model. I have to compete with the hispanic grandmas - what happens when their kids move out into the burbs and have only Purdue and Tyson chickens to use? What a shame.

                  I would imagine that Sam doesn't have to worry about bland factory chicken in Colombia. Lucky guy!

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Well, the project is underway, such as it is. While making note to *next time* go *all the way to Chinatown* for real hens, my endeavor to simply make moo goo gai pan tonight turned up short of the vile canned chicken broth I had planned to use, so out came the chicken feet from the freezer (in one big block) and a package of drumsticks and some random pork bone (considering taking the fatty part out in a moment). All that's in some water with ginger, onion, salt, simmering. We'll see. I'll probably use some of this broth early, for the moo goo gai pan, and then leave the rest to simmer for a ridiculous amount of time.

                      So my improvised moo goo gai pan (an idea which started with the sighting of fresh water chestnuts for the first time in my life) includes - along with a lot of chopping time tonight - water chestnuts, Caucasian celery (because I like it), tops of giant oyster mushrooms, ginger, garlic and chicken breast marinated in mushroom soy sauce, sherry (next time region-appropriate wine), black sesame oil (love) and cornstarch. The sauce includes chicken stock, oyster sauce, sugar and more of that infernal but useful cornstarch.

                      Moo goo gai pan is one of the go-to dishes at faux Chinese joints I remember from childhood on the U.S. East Coast. I just sort of thought it would be cool to make. Never mind that I could make a phone call and have some here within about 10 minutes (really!) for about six bucks.

                      More stock experiments to follow.

                      (I was fine hanging onto the chicken feet when they were one big frozen block. But after I'd stood a corner of into the stock pan to warm up a couple to put in, prying said feet off of the block was a weird sensation, since they were so much more like clammy little hands. I used an implement rather than my own, flashbacks to Golum from LOTR the whole time.)

                      1. re: Cinnamon

                        No matter what, I bet it's better than the $6/10 minute version. Next time in Chinatown, order some braised chicken feet and gnaw away - you'll get over the strangeness real quick. And you'll appreciate where all this flavor is coming from.

                        Oyster sauce is key - that touch of fish makes such a small but just noticeable difference. When making broth for my ramen, I start with the chicken stock, add some pork stock from the pork bones I roast and simmer, but then always add some dashi (Japanese fish stock) or better yet, the clam juice from the small Japanese hamaguri clams.

                        1. re: applehome

                          Yes, it IS better, even for an inaugural effort. The ginger comes through beautifully - everything's better than the order-out, except the prep time.

                          The stock is really gorgeous already. I didn't roast any of the bones. I'm so tempted to throw some star anise in there, but will resist since it would be good to have some clear stock for anything.

                          Cooking is really like having a vocabulary of skills and familiarities. Once done, it's not so intimidating (chicken feet aside). I'm sure stock gets a lot better than this, but so far it's still pretty spectacular vs. 'food service' options. And the stuff has only been simmering an hour. Already has great flavor. I just used 1/2 cup for the moo goo gai pan broth, and snuck a taste.

                  1. All these stock threads fascinate me because there’s so much contradictory information and I really do believe that it just proves that nearly anything works. It might not all taste the same, but whatever you end up with is better than the commercial crap so just go ahead and use what you’ve got and don’t worry about it.

                    If you go back to the older, French, sources, brown chicken stock is made after you’ve already made white chicken stock. It’s not just a question of a different process, the latter is an ingredient in the former. Many of those older recipes (I don’t have access to my books just now but I think Pepin is a proponent) call for veal bones in a chicken stock to give it more body. And although many on these boards claim they make a terrific chicken stock with feet and leftover carcasses, such sources as Harold McGee say that meat=flavor, bones=gelatin.

                    If what I have in the freezer is mostly bones and feet, and I want to make a large amount of really good stock (say for Thanksgiving), I’ll supplement them with additional meat. Sometimes I buy a whole chicken; more often, I buy raw carcasses in Chinatown for about $.50/ea. that have quite a bit of meat on them. But if all I need is a few cups of stock for a recipe and I have a couple of necks, some gizzards, a back and a few wingtips in the freezer, I’ll toss them in a pot with aromatics and still have something better than I can buy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JoanN

                      I generally buy whole chickens and save the necks, backs, gizzards, and odd bits I don't plan to use (like bones, if I decide to bone, or wingtips, if I make supremes) for stock, so there's meat and bone in there, and then after straining once, I'll poach a chicken in the stock to make it stronger, remove the meat for chicken salad or whatever, put the bones back in for a few more hours, then strain, chill, remove the fat, render and strain the fat separately, reduce, strain, chill, clarify with egg whites, strain and reduce further if necessary. I try to make a lot at once, so that between beef, veal, and chicken stock, I only have to make about one a month.

                    2. Followup question: I now have a large container of clear but slightly chicken-colored wobbly Jello, with a thin opaque white sheet on the top. Is the white sheet on top what I should discard, or should that be used? (I did some skimming during the cooking process but there wasn't much to skim. Again, the stock had chicken legs, a couple chicken feet, and a bit of pork meat with bone and a little solid chunk of fat that I took out an hour into the simmer process.)

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Cinnamon

                        The white top is probably fat. The fat on top of beef stock is hard at fridge temperature; pork a bit softer; chicken spreadable. Use or discard as you wish.

                          1. re: Cinnamon

                            Or separate the hardened fat, and reserve it for deep-frying.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Spoon off the hardened fat, heat it in a pan or a pot to boil off the liquid, and then filter it through a few layers of cheesecloth, and it will last longer. Chicken fat can't take as high a frying temperature as duck or goose fat, but it has a lot of flavor. It's excellent for sauteeing/caramelizing onions. I make large batches of onion confit with chicken fat and keep it on hand for all kinds of things.

                              1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                I made some biscuits the other day and, out of both lard and crisco, I used some chicken fat, and they turned out quite well.