Discover your inner Baba


I’ve never really embraced the term Domestic Goddess that Nigella Lawson popularized. Although I:

• love to cook
• enjoy setting a nice table
• find cleaning satisfying on a number of levels
• and, love to organize stuff,

I never see myself as particularly goddess-like or glamourous when I do these things. No, instead I feel more like my Baba (which, if you didn’t know, is the Ukrainian word for grandmother) when I’m involved in housekeeping.  And, although she was not without her charms, Baba was not – at least during my lifetime – a glamourous person.

My Baba taught me a lot of great lessons both in the kitchen and around the house but one of the best lessons she shared is to add chicken feet to the pot when making chicken broth. Chicken feet add great flavour and exude lots of gelatin into the broth so that it sets up to a wiggly jelly when it’s chilled and cooks down to a lovely, syrupy glaze when you make sauces or braised meat dishes.

When I was a kid, most grocery stores had in-store butchery departments so finding chicken feet was as easy as walking to the corner and asking the butcher for a bag of them. Today most national grocers bring in their meat if not fully portioned and packaged, at minimum dressed and cleaned. As a result, buying chicken feet now requires the skills of a treasure hunter.

Once you get your hands on some chicken feet, you’ll need to prepare them for the soup pot. Simply blanch them for about five minutes in boiling salted water; plunge into ice water and then remove the skin and toenails before adding the feet to the stockpot.

I find Asian markets are the best place to find a ready supply of chicken feet (in fact, I found these ones packaged and ready to buy in the case at my local T&T supermarket).

Have you ever made broth or stock using chicken feet as an ingredient? And, if not, would you try it?

Related posts:
Chicken Broth Tips
Easy Economical Parsnip Lemon Soup
Rob’s 10 Tips for Making Soup Stock
Slimming Satisfying Soup


19 Responses to Discover your inner Baba

  1. truenorth67 says:

    T & T can also be a good place for seafood. I sometimes see scallops live in their shell there!

  2. danamccauley says:

    Very good point truenorth67! I buy lobster there all the time and they have a wonderful system for keeping oysters and clams fresh and healthy.

  3. I’ve been using chicken, as well as other animal, feet for years. I don’t bother to skin the feet. I just chop them in about 3 places and throw them in with the rest of my chicken pieces. I usually have a ratio of between 1/4 and 1/3 feet to other meat/bones. Around here (San Francisco Bay Area), chicken feet are often more expensive than other parts of the chicken. I paid 1.99 USD/pound for boneless, skinless thighs yesterday. Chicken feet and wingtips, another part I often use, were running 30¢ more per pound.

  4. I admit it. I’m a wimp. I saw your photo and thought it was a Hallowe’en post gone astray. I don’t think I can bring myself to use these. They look too human. However, I admit to also being a hypocrite for I know I would gobble the soup made from them — so long as I didn’t have to face the chicken feet.

    If I dont’ have enough chicken bones on hand for homemade stock, I buy backs from the butcher — a whole bag for a $2 donation to charity. I think I’ll stick with this.

  5. Elra says:

    I don’t have any problem cooking chicken feet, but my husband and my son might run away. So, I make chicken stock with neck and backbone part.

  6. Jeanne Cafik says:

    Hi Dana!

    When I make Chicken Stock, I like to cool the stock overnight [with the bones, onion etc. still in it]. The next day, I strain the stock, discard all of the solids and chill the stock. It is easy to remove all the fat then and the stock is perfect to use any way you choose. Do I need to bother removing the toe nails? Do they leave any kind of objectionable flavour?


  7. Cheryl says:

    You had me until the toenails. Then you lost me.

  8. danamccauley says:

    Jeanne: I always remove the toenails but, as Peter pointed out, I’m taking an extra step with the skinning.

    Peter, do you remove the nails from the chicken feet or leave them on?

  9. I only remove the nails if I find the color of the polish inconsistent with the color of the stock.

    BTW, chicken feet make for good eating. Braise them in an aromatic sauce, preferably with some spice. You eat the skin and toss the bones. Yumm.

  10. Diva says:

    While I appreciate the rich qualities that chicken feet can add to a broth … I can’t go there. Not even a little bit.

    (I’d eat the soup if someone else made it for me though!)

  11. Cheryl says:

    I like Peter’s polish joke. Heh, heh.

  12. Heather says:

    I laughed so laoud at Peter’s comment about the nails that my husband ran upstairs to find out what was so funny.

    I’m not sure that I like the idea of skinning or taking off nails…the less I have to touch raw meat/fish the happier I am!

  13. danamccauley says:

    Yes, that Peter hits one out of the park every once in a while!

  14. danamccauley says:

    Sorry – I didn’t get to finish my last comment since I had to dash off and pick my little dude up from karate.

    What I’m going to do is make stock with both nail on and nail off feet and get back to you guys. I likely won’t be able to do my testing until the weekend so look for an update late Sunday.


  15. danamccauley says:

    Check out more comments and tips about this post on facebook by visiting profile page:

  16. Jude says:

    Absolutely! Chicken feet add so much to stock.
    Filipinos also grill them. We call it adidas. Seriously.

  17. danamccauley says:


    I’d love to try that recipe. Please share it if you have it handy.

  18. […] know I told you recently that domestic work doesn’t make me feel very chic; however, when I saw these fabulous Divalicious […]

  19. Jc Bermudes says:

    Love– very user-friendly and lots to consider!

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