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My first stock from chicken feet - roast? how many lbs for 6 qts stock?

I have recently become obsessed with chicken stock/bone broth. I usually use wings and other parts but had time to go to the Asian grocery store to get chicken feet today so I decided it was time to try it out. I also happened upon some chicken necks. I've read a few threads here on cleaning and what not but is there anything else to consider? Do I need to roast them beforehand? I'd like to make a very large batch and freeze it. I plan to use a 12 qt stock pot which I imagine with all of the solid would yield about 6 qt of actual liquid stock. Would 8 lbs of parts be a good ratio?

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  1. Roast if you want a dark stock, as is for a lighter and more delicate broth.

    I get more bang for the buck trimming a 10 lb bag of quarters than the current price of $2.99/lb for feet in my area. But experimentation does yield sometimes bodacious returns.

    Good Luck!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

      I actually also have quarters (bought before I decided to venture out for feet) and I must admit they are pretty darn cheap. The feet and necks were as you highlight an exercise in "experimentation." The car was warm and I wasn't ready to face carrying groceries in the cold so why not stop at another store :)

    2. I think 8 pounds will be more than ample.

      For under $6 I get a bag with 3 carcasses & necks and a pack with approx. 23 pristine feet at my local Chinese grocer. It looks like the chickens had pedicures the feet are so clean! I divide it between two crock pots and let it cook for 24 hours. I end up with around 6 quarts of completely gelatinized stock.
      I haven't weighed the parts but I would be surprised if it was more than 4 lbs.

      I don't roast. I usually just use bay leaf to season since I use the stock in so many different ways.

      I have found if I don't defat the stock it lasts for quite a while in the fridge. The fat layer acts as a very effective seal and is easily removed when you are ready to use the stock.

      4 Replies
      1. re: meatn3

        Great, thanks. I really like the crock pot stock but I wish I had a larger crock pot. I drink this stuff like water so last week I used the crock, barely had 3 quarts and now am on a mission to make more. Usually I use a 12 qt stock int eh oven at 180F for a day but that's a lot of energy. Perhaps I'll just make sequential batches with the crock.

        I have noticed with my stock in the past, very little fat rises to the surface. I've been confused by this but nearly every batch has a very thin layer on top.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          I picked up a second crockpot at the thrift store so I could have two going for stock. I prefer the older crock pots temperature-wise. Plus they are easier to clean than my massive stock pot.

          I always have chicken broth on hand since I started the crockpot method (thanks CH). I'm about ready to get a pressure canner so I can keep the stock in the cupboard and save freezer space!

          1. re: meatn3

            I feel like I'm on my way to a pressure canner as well. I just placed an order for a chest freezer :( I'm actually happy about it but I couldn't resist any longer, there are just so many things I want to freeze.

          2. re: fldhkybnva

            Hi fldhkybnva, if you are interested in making LOTS of stock, can I recommend a (relatively) inexpensive 20 qt. SS stockpot? I picked up one of these Macy's-brand "tools of the trade" SS 20 qt stockpots on a clearance rack about 15 yrs ago (back then, the product was called "Belgique") and it has really earned its keep. Mine has a SS lid, but otherwise it appears to be very similar to the 20 qt. pot currently sold by Macy's: http://www1.macys.com/shop/product/to...

            1. re: c oliver

              To the OP: I really encourage you to use backs and other meaty parts in addition to the feet, as per the comments near the end of the thread coliver linked to.
              I never used the feet again...they were no bargain and I felt the flavor and gelatin are better when I use legs, necks, backs, and wings. Not to mention the squick factor of those teeny toenails.

              1. re: greygarious

                I agree. I've made stock with just the feet and it seemed weak.
                A combination works best for me with a very long cook.

                The feet were a bit gruesome at first. Now they don't bother me. I don't discuss using the feet with non-chowish folk. They get too freaked out.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I should have mentioned. I also have chicken leg quarters to add.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Good. You won't get much flavor with chicken feet alone.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I generally use feet, necks and backs.

                  2. re: greygarious

                    The toenails are kind of freaky, but I really love the body of the stock when I use some feet. They are CHEAP in my (heavily Hispanic) neighborhood. I wouldn't use just feet, though - you need some meaty parts for flavor. I often buy bone-in, skin-on thighs and bone them myself - that way I get boneless meat WITH skin and plenty of meaty bones for stock. Win-win!

                  3. re: c oliver

                    Can I just say how much I love my fellow Chowhounders?! I was laughing at the comments, and also at myself, because I'm just like you in some of our food obsessions! Where else could we expound on gruesome chicken feet and pedicures and gelatin and fat caps?! :-)

                  4. I've never roasted the feet, but I always make stock with roasted carcasses.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rasputina

                      This is true. I've never used chicken feet to make stock, mostly chicken carcasses and other poultry bones to make a strong stock. It became gelatin very well on its own. Also, to the person who mentioned about leaving the layer of fat on the refrigerated stock: Spot on. It does indeed prolong the life of the stock.

                    2. Generally I make stock from frozen, previously cooked chicken carcasses/bones with some feet (unroastd) thrown in for good measure. I have actually never roasted the bones or feet when making chicken stock. I generally make a thinner stock and then reduce so by my calculations, 8 lbs of parts is more than ample.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: tcamp

                        This is what I usually do as well, tcamp, although I don't buy anything extra (i.e. feet or backs). There are times I would like my stock to be a bit more gelatinous--it seems to depend on the pieces used. But the crockpot method works for me.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          There's always the box of Knox plain packets. We won't tell. America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Country has taken to using it to pimp some of their stocks and sauces. Saw one yesty where they used a whole box in their Bolognese sauce to enhance the 4 cups of boxed broth that went into it.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Yeah, I'm not big on ATK, so I probably wouldn't be using a box of Knox to thicken a sauce.

                      2. Thanks to all, I finished with 3 quarts of the gelliest stock I've made yet. I have already inhaled 2 quarts in soup. I'll definitely be using feet and necks regularly.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          I always use feet and necks and, if available, backs as that give more chicken flavor. Addictive, isn't it???

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I thought I was addicted before...and now I discovered feet! I must admit, the bobbing feet were a surprise every time I went in the kitchen. A new freezer arrived today, so I'm making another batch.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              I do mine in a DO in a real slow oven covered so no bobbing feet to watch :)

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                E-gads keep the lid on the pot so Take does not play *bobbing for apples* with those feet:) Your gelled batch sounds so delicious.

                                1. re: MamasCooking

                                  I can only imagine...I wouldn't put it past him. He plays with his meat before he eats it, I mean toss it in the there and bat it around kind of play. It was great. My stock usually gels, but not like that.

                            2. re: fldhkybnva

                              I've mentioned this elsewhere, don't know if you have seen it: I buy freezer safe Ball wide mouth jars; I've found pint, pint + 1/2 and qt size. You have to make sure the case says freezer safe. You can find at OSH or ACE hardware.

                              Love it to put my chicken stock in. You can also buy a funnel to make it go in jar easier. I strain it first with cheesecloth. (Does anyone know why cheesecloth is so expensive? Where to find it cheaper?)

                            3. I really like a dark stock, so I usually roast unless I'm making a soup or something that calls for a lighter stock. I also brown the veggies for extra depth. I often butterfly chicken and save the backs, and also save the bones when I remove them for boneless, skin-on breasts or thighs. We have a poultry market that sells the feet and backs really cheap so they get roasted and go in the pot as well. (Mayflower Poultry - Fresh Killed.)

                              I noticed that our busiest Whole Foods has chicken parts for stock in the meat case, maybe for $2.49/lb. if I recall correctly. It looked like they had lots of backs in there. I'll keep that in mind in a pinch.

                              After shoveling yet again the other night, I pulled some caramelized onions, chicken stock and beef stock out of the freezer. Instant French onion soup. It was pure comfort after the wet and cold.

                              Speaking of shoveling...it's snowing pretty hard right now. Darn.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: bear

                                Wish I was closer to Boston to go to Mayflower Poultry. But I will note and check my local WF for chicken backs.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  I've only seen them at Fresh Pond, but hopefully some of the other larger WF's have them as well.

                                  1. re: bear

                                    Fresh Pond is WAY more likely to have it than Andover's WF. I'm thinking those in Andover won't be liking chicken backs in their meat case. :-)

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Maybe it's time to shake them up a bit!

                                2. re: bear

                                  I was at the Andover Whole Foods yesterday, just poking around (although I did need a few things) and noticed a stand-alone freezer case of "bones and raw food for your dogs!" I peered into the top of the case, and lo and behold, they had various beef bones and chicken necks and backs, both ground and as-is.

                                  I noted the price for the ground chicken necks and backs was $1.99/lb., and the whole chicken necks/backs was only $.99/lb! Bonus - I'll try these for stock the next time. Pulled out a package....and it was labeled as "ground chicken necks and backs" and priced at $1.99/lb. Ummm....no. Checked other packages - they were ALL labeled as ground and at the higher price.

                                  Went up to the butcher counter with a single package (I was planning on buying three) and pointed it out the mislabeling to one of the the young'uns behind the counter. I got sort of an empty look from him, he asked someone else for a marker, and wrote "No Charge" on the label and handed it back to me. When I told him I was planning on buying two more and pointed out that the entire case of chicken necks/backs were mismarked, I got another empty look, as if saying "I'm not going to do anything about it.". And there was no movement to go make the change. So I went back, got two more packages, and brought them back to the meat counter. He wrote "no charge" on them and wordlessly handed them back to me.

                                  So I showed them to the checkout person and explained the seeming lack of understanding or caring re: the mis-marked packages in the freezer case. She had me reexplain to a supervisor, who thanked me, but also didn't seem to make a move over to the butcher area. No idea if they ever did anything about it.

                                  So I got a little over 3 lbs. of chicken necks and backs that should have cost me $9.00 for free, all tucked into the freezer for future use.

                                  Perhaps I'll go back there tomorrow and see if they were repackaged and priced properly and if not, "buy" them out. :-)

                                  So - fair warning - CHECK THE ACTUAL PRICE of what you're buying against the listed price.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Nice catch, and frustrating. I recently had a similar experience at Fresh Pond where a large poster advertised chicken breast at $2 less per lb. than the case. The kid behind the counter said it was probably for 3 lbs. or more. I said they should post that, and he agreed and said he'd pass it along but they didn't change the poster.

                                      I had gone back to the store specifically because I had seen the sale price. Should have pushed it, but didn't.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        As usual I'm skeptical. Is there a Sell By or Use By date? I guess they're ground up so technically you couldn't roast them etc., and eat them yourself. If you say they're fine, I'll have G look in our local WF.

                                        ETA: Just thinking that in our WF there are many items, especially produce, that are mis-labled. G gets the blank stare too when he tries to confirm. Must be a company training seminar thing.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          I worked at a place similar to WF during the huge pet food scare. We began to sell more meat for animals than people!
                                          Because of the time involved in processing the grinds we began to keep a cooler dedicated to packets for pets.

                                          Even though those packets are being marketed for animals they still have to meet the same quality/standards as the rest of the meat products.

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            I'm not buying the ground, Gio; I'm buying the unground chicken backs and necks for making stock. Based on what I saw through the clear wrap, there's not enough meat on them to "eat" anything.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Ok... Thank you meatn3 and Linda. I just Had to know.

                                      2. My grandmother always held the feet in the flame of the stove before adding them to soup.

                                        6 Replies
                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            Probably to clean and char for more flavor.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              A quick roasting, as well as cleaning, as Gio noted.

                                            2. re: EricMM

                                              Back in the day (when chicken tasted like chicken) my mom used to do that same thing with chicken & turkey wings to get rid of the hair before cooking....

                                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                                Ah, I'm betting that's exactly why.

                                                1. re: Cherylptw

                                                  You need to write a book. You understand food from what I call *the ground level up*. So do I. I am grateful every day for the exposure I had to great natural *real* food and my genius scratch cook of a mother beginning at a very young age:)