Ever since I can remember, I’ve heard of chicken soup referred to as Jewish penicillin. Can it truly be that good for you? Yes. In fact, any variety of properly made stock provides many health promoting vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Plus, it tastes so much better than what you buy in a can, that once you try it, you will add making stock to your regular “to-do” list.
Why Is It Good?
In her popular book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon says, “Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate.” Adding a little vinegar to the pot helps to draw out minerals into the broth—especially calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
The proof of a properly made stock is the gelatin. If you put your pot in the refrigerator to cool and it comes out all quivery like Jello®, you have a goodly stock full of protein-rich gelatin. Although it is not a complete protein, having only two amino acids, it helps the body with digestive disorders, anemia, and blood sugar fluctuations.
When making a healthy broth only use parts from healthy, organically raised animals—lest you extract things you don’t want. Also, use the feet from all animals. They are full of gelatin. And from wild game add a piece or two of antler. Using different types of bones will give your stock more benefits. You will want a few knuckle bones (ones with cartilage), bones with marrow, and rib and neck bones.
How To Make Stock
For beef or venison, place a variety of bones in your stock pot and cover with cold water (about four quarts will do). For chicken, use the whole bird cut into pieces. Feet are optional but highly recommended. Add some cut up vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery and whatever herbs you may want to season with. For the larger bones like beef, you will want to add about ½ cup of vinegar; for birds, a couple tablespoons. Before cooking, let the pot sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Bring the pot to a boil and skim off any foam or scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer all day; the longer the better, especially for the large boned animals. In fact, beef bones can take several days of simmering. Just keep them covered with water—adding when necessary. Just before removing the pot from the heat, add a few sprigs of parsley. “This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth,” says Fallon.
After skimming all the solids from your pot, place it into the refrigerator to cool. Once cool, skim off all fat that has risen to the top. Clear broth (with no meat in it) will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Or, you can separate into serving size containers and freeze. It will keep in the freezer for several months.
How to Clean Chicken Feet for Stocks
“Once removed from the bird, scrub the feet in some soap and water with a small brush,” shares Karen Beachy from Timberville, Virginia. “A firm toothbrush works fine.” Beachy then scalds them for one to two minutes in water a little hotter than used for plucking. Salad tongs work great to easily remove them from the hot water. The scalding will allow you to peel the feet of the scales and toe nails, leaving nothing but clean flesh underneath.
If you do not raise your own chickens, you can generally purchase already prepared chicken feet from Asian or Oriental markets. “I’m not one with a real sensitive taste,” shares Beachy, “but I do think the feet add some flavor and I know they add nutrients. So, the work is fine with me!”
Photo by anjuli_ayer