Hee hee. Last weekend, Chris came through for me and brought a big ziploc baggie full of chicken feet to GreenMarket for me. I was expecting only a few, but she gave me at least 15! She was so excited that I would be using them, as they don't rank very high in popularity. Apparently, there is only one other person who requests them from her - a Chinese woman who I am sure must also be using them for soup.
Anyway, I'm making a new batch of my funky soup and that there is a picture of it as it sits on the stove starting it's looong simmering process. I ended up using four feet and pulled two of them up to the surface so we can see them in action. How to prepare this quirky ingredient, that was the big question I had. (My book conveniently doesn't discuss that!) Every source I've seen says to boil them for 5 minutes, so that's what I did. Nearly every source I've seen says to then cut off the talons at the first knuckle, so that's what I did. The sources were divided as to whether or not the skin should also be removed. After boiling for 5 minutes, it looked kind-of nasty, so I opted to remove it. Frankly, though, I think the feet looked even worse without the skin. I removed the toes quickly and without incident. The skin? Well that took a little longer, required more concentration, and sometimes smelled quite badly. A few times, I got a big whiff and had to momentarily step. away. from. the. counter. We'll see how this goes, but next time I might try leaving the skin on.
I've been reading GLORIOUS reports about chicken soup/broth made with the feet, so I'm hoping mine lives up to the high expectations I now have. I'll let you know, and if it truly is that amazing, perhaps you can give it a try too!