The Most Delicious Braised Chicken Feet
When you dream of your favorite dishes, I’m guessing your dreams are not filled with images of feet and claws, held together with connective tissue and bones. I mean, who wants to clip the toenails off their food before cooking it? DON’T LEAVE! I PROMISE THIS WILL BE WORTH IT – JUST HANG IN THERE AND KEEP READING!
Chicken feet is an extremely popular dim sum dish and can be absolutely amazing when cooked correctly. I fell in love with this dish during my first dim sum experience, with all their gelatinous goodness. Consisting predominantly of skin and cartilage, once you can get past the idea of eating chicken feet, you will surely be amazed by how absolutely awesome they are. Plus, it feels great knowing that we are making use of all the parts of the chicken.
There are a few steps to take when cooking your chicken feet to ensure they come out tender and delicious. The first is the brine. We brine them for an extra boost of flavor, as well as to help tenderize the skin and cartilage. Yes I said it, skin and cartilage. The next step is the braising process, or slow cooking in a seasoned liquid to break down the cartilage (again, yes cartilage) which provides the gelatinous texture we are after (yes, that’s what we are after). Lastly, we do a quick stir fry to coat them in the most amazing sauce. Seriously, the most amazing sauce. By this time, the chicken feet have been cooked to a suck-off-the-bone tender status and the sauce is just the icing on the cake. But I mean, what is cake without icing, right?
With that said, this recipe does take a little time to make, but I promise it is so worth the effort! But before we do anything, trim those nails off those toes! We don’t want any part of that.
Let’s start with the brine. Pour the boiling water over the aromatics and let sit for 20 minutes. Add the sherry and about 6 ice cubes to cool the brine. Don’t add the chicken feet until the brine has cooled – we’re not trying to cook them here…at least not yet. One cooled, let the chicken feet sit in the brine for at least 2 hours.
Once the chicken feet have had adequate time to brine, drain them. Then add the ingredients for the braising liquid and the chicken feet to a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over medium-low heat for 2 hours.
Related Recipe: Kung Pao Chicken
Drain, reserving the liquid for other uses. DON’T FORGET TO RESERVE THE BRAISING LIQUID! This stuff is like gold. The broken down collagen from the braised chicken feet add an extra depth to the broth, while the wine, anise and scallions add to the intense umami flavor. This broth is not to be destroyed! It would be amazing used in this Wonton Noodle Soup recipe. Do with it as you please, just don’t throw it away!
Related Recipe: Twice Cooked Pork
Heat pork fat in a skillet over medium heat. Substitute any kind of fat here; I just like pork fat. Coconut oil would also work well. Add the chicken feet and sauce ingredients.
Stir fry to coat the braised chicken feet, cooking until the sauce has thickened to desired consistency, about 10 minutes. The sauce should evenly coat each chicken foot.
And your braised chicken feet are ready to eat! You either love me or hate me right now. I’m going to go with love because these things are so good you’ll never be able to eat just one! They are great served as an appetizer, as part of a dim sum meal, or with some fried rice or lo mein noodles, with wonton noodle soup or spicy szechuan green beans on the side.
Want to try making your own Chinese food at home? Try these other delicious recipes: