But don't run away yet.
Bryan has been trying to get me to eat chicken feet for some time now. JenEhr began offering them, and course Bryan couldn't pass anything like that up. I, however, was scared, seeing as how they are chicken feet. The feet of chicken. Feet. But the more he persisted, the less scared I got. After all, we knew these chickens. These were happy, healthy, clean chickens raised on organic pastures. These were chickens we knew to be raised with love. And using the chickens' feet embraces the kind of whole animal eating we think is important (even if there are many edible parts of animals that completely freak me out when it comes to actually eating them).
A few Sundays ago, as I was making chili for lunch, Bryan was making chicken stock. He pulled out some chicken feet to add to the stock. The feet have extra gelatin and thus would lend to an extraordinarily rich stock. The recipe I was basing my chili on called for chicken stock; I didn't have any defrosted (because we only use homemade, holla!), and Bryan suggested I just throw some chicken feet in instead. I couldn't argue that it wasn't a good idea, because it made perfect sense. I needed chicken stock, and I needed something to help thicken the chili. Two birds feet, one stone, you know. So I poured in some water, tossed in the chicken feet, and off it went.
It worked perfectly. Not only was it a perfect substitution for chicken stock, but the feet helped thicken the chili nicely, eliminating the need for masa (which I'm not a huge fan of in my chili). And the chili was downright delicious. The beer, the combination of beans, and the chicken lent it a deeper flavor than my standard chili. So while the sight of raw chicken feet may continue to tell me to run away screaming, I'll have to get over it, because they are the new secret ingredient in my chili.
Chicken Foot Chili
(adapted from Bobby Flay's Beef and Black Bean Chili with Toasted Cumin Crema and Avocado Relish)
2 lbs beef (ground or cubed)
2 tbs bacon fat (or vegetable oil)
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs ground cumin
1 - 12 oz bottle beer
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chiles
1 - 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs dried oregano
1/2 tsp toasted garlic powder
1 - 14.5 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 14.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
2 chicken feet
Brown beef over medium high heat in large, heavy bottomed pot. When no longer pink, remove with slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. To the fat in the pot, add bacon fat. Cook onions until barely golden, then add garlic and cumin. Let cook until fragrant, 1 - 2 minutes, then add beer. Reduce almost completely. Add beef back to pot, along with tomatoes, spices, and beans, and mix thoroughly. Add water and chicken feet; stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 2 hours (or more).
Serve with desired toppings (such as cheese, sour cream, diced onion, cilantro, avocado) and cornbread.