Archive for October, 2016

  • Chicken Feet 101

    Date: 2016.10.08 | Category: Family Life

    For years Jasmine has been asking me to make her spicy chicken feet.  We couldn’t find them already done at the local Chinese store so Dan ordered them off of Amazon.  We ordered them once or twice and she was in heaven.  Then, for some reason, we just couldn’t get them.

    When we added Elyse to the mix, she begged me to make chicken feet and then little JJ chimed in too.   When we asked the littles they said they had never had them.  Jasmine and Elyse said kids under the age of 7 or 8 weren’t allowed to have them because of all the gristle and little bony parts.  The bigger girls, however, had them whenever there was a celebration like Chinese New Year or Children’s Day.  They were only allowed two feet and it was a VERY big deal.

    For some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to make them from scratch.  I had been around when my grandparents butchered the chickens they raised.  I gathered eggs from those same chickens.  I’ve been in a coop.  I am not in the least bit adventurous with my eating and even less so with my cooking.  Who wants to make a big batch of something new and have all your picky eaters refuse to eat it?

    BUT they just kept asking.

    Our pastor and some of our good friends raise chickens.  They were going to be butchering some and had heard the girls talking about chicken feet and asked if I wanted them to keep them for me.  I answered a very hesitant “yes” and they delivered them to me.


    Dan and I looked at recipes on line.  I asked my Facebook friends for tried and true recipes.  It seemed like it would be a bit time consuming because of all the steps, but it didn’t look hard.  It is the same way when I make steamed buns from scratch for the girls.  It takes all day by the time you mix the dough, let it rise,  roll them out and fill them up, but the looks on their faces when they bite into a homemade steamed bun is priceless.  I was sure it would be more of the same with these chicken feet.

    Here is the recipe we used from


    You wash them in water, scrubbing them until clean.


    You then put them in boiling water for 30 seconds and instantly remove to a drying rack.  This is what it should look like.


    You then pull off the outer scaly layer starting at the nail and working backwards.  It is fairly easy to remove.  It will look like this when you are done.


    Do NOT overcook or you will not be able to peel off the outer scaly layer, both layers come off and it is a greasy mess and not very appetizing.


    It became a very, very sad chicken foot.

    You then cut the nail up to the first bony joint.


    Everyone joined in on the fun scaling the chicken feet.  See the joy in Hope’s eyes?  🙂


    Ben, Maisey and the middles wanted to join in and help.


    After peeling them, you boil the feet for 90 minutes.

    You remove them and dry them on a rack to remove the excess water.

    Pat them dry, then brown them in a pan on each side.

    You then put them in the sauce in a crock pot and warm them up.

    This was the final product.


    Even daddy tried them.


    The first batch was not hot enough so I made the rest with a sweet chili sauce.  I cheated and used some directly out of a jar.


    They LOVED them.  It was hot enough to make their noses run and their eyes water.  Perfect is what I heard over and over again.

    The proof is on their faces.


    If I had known how much they would enjoy them, I would have made them sooner.   Although it was nice that all three of them got to enjoy them for the first time together.


    They giggled so much.  Jasmine had the sauce all over her face.  She was a good sport and let me take a picture.


    I watched them each eat 8 chicken feet each.  They talked again and again about how they could only have two before.  They talked about how lucky they were to be in a family.  How lucky they were to have each other.  The giggled and laughed and told stories for 30 minutes.

    When they were done it was much like eating too much at Thanksgiving dinner.  They sat back and rubbed their bellies.  The moaned a satisfied moan.  The smiles on their faces were priceless.  They were SO happy.  I told them before that I would only do this once but I will do it again.  How could I not?

    I remember what I felt like in China eating foods I was not used to.  I liked the noodles and the rice and the different dishes but it wasn’t like home.  It tastes so good to have something that you remember and love.  Chicken feet brought back good memories of the orphanage and they need those. They need good memories of their childhood to hold on to.  Not everything in their past was pretty.  I want them to remember these good memories and let the bad ones become a distant memory.

    The thought of cleaning chicken feet and removing nails was more than I could stand at first, but that was replaced by the happy faces of my middle girls.

    So Chinese New Year and Children’s Day will not only include my homemade steamed buns and  potstickers (even though they aren’t pretty) but some very hot chicken feet too.