Around the world there are many ways to cook and consume chicken feet. Some cultures like them completely soft, cooked for a long time with many seasonings. There is apparently an art to chewing on the smaller bones and gristly bits while spitting out the larger inedible bones. Other cultures like them chewier and crispier. In some others still, they are seasoned and grilled as street food. Despite my desire to find evidence of a global “Great Taste Less Filling” style debate between crispy and mushy, no such thing exists.
I decided to try for both styles to give them a fair shake. First up I had to trim them, apparently chicken talons are not very tasty so they had to go.
Even when I worked on a farm as a kid I never spent any time looking at chickens feet, they are very reptilian. In the end I had a pretty good pile of nicely manicured feet and a separate pile of talons. Yum
I dropped them into the pressure cooker with some water, chicken stock, garlic, galangal (which I also grabbed at a new to me Asian market today)and some salt in order to soften them up in less than the typical 1.5 to two hours I saw on most recipe sites.
45 minutes later I had tender jiggly chicken feet ready to eat.
I hesitated a moment before taking a bite, I was really trying to figure out the best way to approach it, I decided to just rip off a toe and go for it. The texture was very soft and tender, if you are opposed to gelatinous foods then I don’t think this would be the style for you. The flavor was excellent though, very rich and chickeny. There was a hint of the seasonings from the pot but mostly it was just a fatty, unctuous mouthful of chicken.
I actually had quite a bit of fun with the remaining portions of the foot, all my years of eating sunflower seeds and chewing tobacco (as a kid) finally paid off. There was a process involved in working the meat from the bones and putting the bones over to the side of my mouth while I worked on the next part. I think all baseball players should start using chicken feet instead of tobacco during games so they can compare their epic piles of bones in the dugout at the end of a game.
Next up was the crispy fried version. I heated a bunch of oil in my wok and added 4 feet to it to fry. Since they were all fully cooked it only took about 2 minutes to get the skin crispy and render them ready to try.
After a quick drain and a moment to cool I ripped off a piece of foot and went to work. The crispy skin was a huge step up in texture. It was like a fatty chicken wing, in the best possible way. I am going to take my leftovers and toss them with some buffalo wing sauce to validate that.
Chicken feet get a “try it” for sure. I am sure those of you who are squeamish or opposed to very soft textures won’t like them but I would encourage you to try them.