Chicken Feet Dim Sum.

I’ve been away for a while and I’m sorry. I was very busy at work. I’m back with an old recipe. I meant to post this earlier, but never got to it. Sorry for the french readers, I have some trouble making the translation work on the blog. As soon as I fix it i’ll post the french version.

Mmm! Chicken feet. Ok, this is not at all what I thought when I first contemplated the idea of cooking chicken feet. Why? Why did I want to do that, this is stupid really, I was watching an episode of MasterChef Australia in which the challenge on the invention test was to cook a chinese dish. amongst the ingredients were chicken feet. A couple of the contestant chose to cook them, but failed. When the judges described the taste and feel of actually perfectly cook chicken feet, I was sold and out of the door direction China town. I was planning on cooking a small batch for me alone, but I found only 1 kilo bags of frozen feet. I defrosted them under cold running water and selected 6 of them.

Chicken Feet Dim Sum.

Serves 1 or 2.Pour 1 ou 2
6 chicken feet.
1 tsp Fennel seeds.
4 Star Anis.
1 Thumb size piece of ginger.
1 tsp Cinnamon.
1 tsp cumin.
1/4 cup soya sauce.
Corn starch. enough to coat.

I actually picked up the recipe online. I never cooked chicken feet before and I didn’t want to wing it. It might not be traditional, but I added a couple of steps to the recipe, stuff I do with other meat like pigs trotters.

First step was to clean up the chicken feet. with a pair of kitchen shear of a heavy chef’s knife, you remove the tip of each fingers, you don’t really want to be chewing on the chicken claws. Make sure that you got them all. The first step I added was to place the chicken feet in a pot and cover them with salted water. I brought it to the boil and let it there for a couple of minutes, this process helps extract the scum and make for a cleaner chicken. After two minutes, I removed the chicken from the pot, emptied the scummy water and clean the pot.

I put back the pot on the stove and, this is the second step I added to the recipe. I brown off the feet until golden brown. I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to get the chicken sugars going. Now I was back on the recipe track. To the pot I added the ginger, slice into chunks, no need to peel it as it will be strained later. I added the rest of the spices, the cinnamon, the fennel seeds and the star anis. poured the Soya sauce. I cooked up the mix on medium heat for a couple of minutes to get the flavors going (Third and last addition to the original recipe), then covered the whole thing with water.

Chicken feet are very tough and mainly tendons, cartilage and connective tissue. To make this unappetizing list of component palatable, you need long, very long and slow cooking. I brought the pot to the boil, then reduced it to a simmer and left it alone for 2 to 3 hours or when tender and falling off the bone.

After a couple of hours I checked on the pot. I tested one foot, it was cooked, turned off the heat and removed the feet to a tray to cool down. I used a tray to have a even layer, this make the cooling process go faster. After 20 to 30 minutes – I didn’t look at the time really it could have been an hour. I’m just assuming that 20 to 30 minutes is plenty for 6 chicken feet to cool down – It was time for the second stage. Dusting the feet with corn flour. I used a ziploc bag, placed the chicken feet in and shook it gently, you have to be gentle when manipulating them or they will break apart.

The last stage of this very long process (remember, it’s only six chicken feet) is to steam them. traditionally you would use a bamboo steamer to do so, but me, I used my beloved thermomix. I filled it with a liter of water, set it to Varoma temperature (120°C) and place the chicken feet in the steamer basket. As recommended I drizzled a little bit of the strained cooking liquid over the meat and steamed for 15 minutes.

Done! Now was the time of the tasting. I repeat, I never actually eaten chicken feet, I’ve seen them on restaurant’s menu and steered away from them. I sat down in front of them and after several minutes of hesitation, I got stuck in. What does it taste? What’s the texture? mind you.Enfin!Le moment était venu pour moi de gouter mes créations. Je n’avais jamais mangé de pieds de poulet auparavant. Je les avais vus dans les restos chinois, mais je les évitais avec passion. Après quelques minutes d’hésitation, je me suis lancé. Verdict?

It was good. It was very good. Strange at first, reminded me of pig’s trotters, very gelatinous, but very tasty. Chicken flavours on steroids. A couple of thing I didn’t enjoy was the fact that it is quite difficult to eat. The skin is very tasty, but when you bite into it, you end up with the little bone that form the fingers in your mouth and are not particularly pleasant. I was told that some people actually eat these little bones, I don’t. I end up giving up on the fingers and was biting into the ankle part of the feet where the bone is bigger and doesn’t break.

So. To conclude, I’m happy I cooked chicken feet, even though it takes some commitment. It is quite good but very fiddly to eat unless you like to chew on bones, which I don’t. Will I do it again, no, I don’t think so, but I will order it in my next visit to a Chinese restaurant.

What did I do with the remaining chicken feet I had left? It struck me while I was simmering the feet for the dim sum, that the aroma and the taste of the stock was very chicken-y and the same way you would use chicken wings to make a good stock, I thought that chicken feet would be great too.

As I did for the dim sum. I boiled the feet for a couple of minute to clean them, removed them, cleaned the pot and placed them back in, brown them off, added carrots, celery and onions (Mirepoix) brown that off as well, added a bouquet garni (Thym, Bayleaf, parsley and Leak). 8 to 10 black peppercorn, a star anis, two cloves, a pinch of salt and simmered it for a couple of hours. Once cooked I left it to cool in the pot and strained through a sieve lined with muslin cloth. I place the stock in the fridge and the next day I had a jellied chicken stock.

I divided it into 200g portions and vaccum packed them individually. I kept a couple in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer for later use. I used it in various recipes, from sauces to straight stock and in stews, it was great.

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