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Alternative to chicken feet for gelatin in bone broth ?


I've been sufficiently disgusted with the idea of using chicken feet in my bone broth as a source of extra gelatin (per my question: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8883...


Basically, I'm not willing to clip toe nails and scrub so I don't get bird crap in my broth.

So, what's a good alternative?

Are cow feet any cleaner? Do they need scrubbed?

(I don't want to use pork products).

Any other ingredient which might be cleaner and less disgusting?


PS: I'm using a pressure cooker if that matters.

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  1. Heh. :-) Well, the wings are pretty gelatinous, though not as much as the feet.

    1. I usually put chicken feet in my chicken soup with nails--no problems.

      I also use cow/calf feet to make a Eastern European Jewish food called petcha. The feet are clean with sometimes a few hairs.

      Both feet are frozen before being sold in market

      1. Simmer beef bones with marrow, lots of knuckles, and tendons. Asian markets usually sell them in big bags around my neighborhood or behind the case.

        1. I add a tbs or so of ACV to my chicken stock made with leftovers carcasses. It helps leach the gelatin out if the bones to make a thick gelatinous stock.

          1. Backs give off a lot of gelatin. That's usually what I use in broths and stocks.

            Also, have you checked out the feet at Asian groceries? The few times I've peeked at them, they've looked pretty clean.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mer_Made

              The thread referenced above made the case that there's feces under the nails, and the nails should be removed and scrubbed.

              This soo totally grossed me out, I'm now looking for a source that can just easily be rinsed and tossed in the pressure cooker.


            2. I always use a calf's foot, which I buy blanched and split (lengthwise). Superclean, no prep at all.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ZoeLouise

                I'm sure the asian grocery near me would have them (they have everything).

                How would I know if it's blanched (which I think means cooked slightly).

                I don't think anyone there speaks english to ask.


              2. I've had nice gelatinous results with wings and backs.

                7 Replies
                1. re: monavano

                  I'm sorry for sounding stupid, but are "backs" labeled as such?

                  I've purchased a whole chicken cut-up. Would that include the "backs"?


                  1. re: mike2401

                    A whole chicken cut up, hmm... thinking back to when I've bought one and I believe that no, no back, it's discarded. A whole chicken of course had the back and I find just backs (labeled as such and easy to identify) at my local ethnic market.

                    1. re: mike2401

                      I think monavano has it right; a cut-up "whole chicken" would likely *not* include the back. It's easy to tell; it's basically the spinal column. My local chain grocery store carries bulk-packed backs, in the same fashion as packs of thighs or drumsticks; yours might, too. If you're lucky enough to have a farmer's market nearby, you might find a poultry stand. Mine does, and that shop sells backs in any quantity you want; they're piled up in the display case.

                      1. re: mike2401

                        The backs in your market might be part of the "thighs" that they sell. It depends on the market. One market in my area sells cheaper thighs, but they have the back attached. The other market in my area has ordinary thighs, with no back portion. You might also find the back attached when they sell the thigh and leg as one whole piece.

                        1. re: saltwater

                          I just purchased a whole empire kosher chicken (pre-cut-up). I didn't notice anything that seemed foreign.

                          However, now that I've made my first chicken-feet & combo beef marrow bone broth, it was really rich and tasty, I don't need to search for alternatives, but thanks!


                          1. re: mike2401

                            Buying a whole chicken is an awfully expensive way to get parts for stock, unless of course you separate the prime meat parts from parts you'd use for stock. Any decent meat counter of butcher shp will sell the "cheap" (i.e. less meat/more bone) parts of the chicken at a much lower price per pound than even buying a whole chicken.

                            1. re: MagicMarkR

                              Good point. However, I was surprised at how gelatinous my broth was after just 24 minutes:

                              Take a look at my 6 second broth video:


                    2. I suggest you get over it and just be glad you live in an area where you can get chicken feet.

                      1. I'm not 100% sure what the problem is with your broth that you feel it needs more gelatin or if it a specific application that you just want more gelatin.

                        But if you just want more gelatin, you can just add gelatin to your stock - simple Knox gelatin . . . . it has much the same result and mouth feel . . . .

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: thimes

                          I'm just trying to achieve maximum nutrition, through cooking from scratch (not adding gelatin from a box).

                          I'm not a foodie, just trying to get all the health benefits that gelatin provides.


                          1. re: mike2401

                            The easiest answer for you is wings. They have lots of collagen and they are right there in the supermarket.

                            1. re: mike2401

                              Knox gelatin is as healthy as what you'll get from boiling feet.
                              One packet makes 2 cups of liquid as solid as dessert jello. You don't need that much. I'd use a packet per 3 cups. Pour it over cool stock, or a half cup of water, then stir it into hot stock after it has dissolved.

                          2. while being processed at the chicken plant, those birds are cleaned and rinsed with disinfectant. that includes the feet. i use backs, heads and feet for my broth, don't snip or skim or fuss. and yes, i make it for nutrition, not aesthetics.

                            cow feet (hooves) are processed just like bird feet. both are clean by the time they wind up in your store. not to mention you are simmering either of these things for many hours.

                            all that being said, if you can buy beef tendons those are another option.

                            p.s. i used to roast chicken feet for my dog as a treat. he LOVED them. ( i did this after seeing them in a pet store, packaged for more than $1 a foot. they are perfectly safe for pooches.)

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Thanks. I'll tell my dog owning friend who feared chicken bones for safety reasons. He said beef bones don't splinter like chicken bones do.

                              1. re: mike2401

                                not all chicken bones are created equal. don't give the dog chicken bones from the rest of the carcass though.

                              2. re: hotoynoodle

                                As to the point about birds being cleaned & rinsed with disinfectant:

                                I suppose there's lots of nooks & crannies that doesn't really get cleans & disinfected. That's why we COOK chicken and don't eat it raw.

                                So maybe I'm just grossing myself out and not being consistent, worrying about chicken feces under chicken feet nails, etc.

                                I'm sure just about the entire chicken is gross, and rinsing it under water doesn't really do anything to really clean it. Cooking is the key. RIGHT?


                                1. re: mike2401


                                  A word to the wise. If you want to take this cooking thing seriously, you really need to get over this "grossing myself out" thing you have going on right now.

                                  Keep up your current attitude and you'll end up like Sandra Lee or the 21st Century version of a real-life "Betty Crocker".

                                  A home kitchen is probably the least "gross" food preparation place in the culinary universe.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    If your point is eating out in a restaurant is far more gross, I guess I'd agree.

                                    I guess I'll be eating in tonight!

                              3. I only use wings, necks and backs to make my stock, and I always get a silky, gelatinous result. The key is to break the bones open. I have a pair of stem clippers designed for flowers and small branches, etc. which I have dedicated to this use. Before putting the chicken parts in the pot, I crack open every bone. This seems to make a real difference. Also, if you don't reduce it enough, it will not jell.

                                I get my chicken parts from a chicken farmer. He packages the necks and backs for just this purpose, and I always buy a bag of wings from him to add to the pot. The last batch I made, I used four backs, four necks, about 1.25 pounds of wings, and the carcass from a whole roasted chicken. My yield was about 26 cups of jellied stock.

                                Hope this helps.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: lisavf

                                  That does, help, thank you!

                                  BTW, are you eating the meat from the wings?

                                  Do you use the bones more than once?


                                  1. re: mike2401

                                    If you do it right the meat will be tasteless and gross and the bones will have given up their magic to the stock, so no

                                2. Last time I made stock, I asked my butcher for wings & he said legs were better for gelatin. They did make a nice stock that gelled very well but I don't do stock often enough to say how it compares. And I have never tried it with feet.