Can I boil chicken feet in my already prepared chicken stock?
November 12, 2016 4:37 PM   Subscribe

I made some chicken stock. Then, I picked up a bag of chicken feet. I want to increase the collagen/gelatin concentration in the already made stock by boiling the feet in it. However, a friend I trust once said that you should never boil stock.

Can I boil the feet in the already made stock without destroying something inherently awesome in the existing stock? (I'm essentially asking if my friend is right or not, but because she is a wonderful, wonderful human being, let us not bog ourselves down with that kind of thinking.)
posted by danep to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd just make a different stock out of the chicken feet, and then blend the two stocks together when you're ready for cooking.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:39 PM on November 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Of course you boil stock, it is how stock is made. A stock pot sits on the stove and additions are made and boiled. That is why one can throw in onion skins without washing them, and whatever else you wish. Stock is boiled so the marrow can leech out of the bones, and the flavor.

"In the second method, we start with chopped raw chicken backs and/or wings, and sauté them first to brown them for flavor. Then add onion, carrots, parsley, and leek or onion greens, and cover with several inches of cold water. This we simmer for 4 to 6 hours and then strain."
posted by Oyéah at 4:59 PM on November 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

"You should never boil stock" only applies when making it, i.e. when the bones and vegetables and stuff are in it. Stirs things up and makes it cloudy (but, assuming you strain it well, no less tasty).

I'm guessing the stock is already strained and sitting in your fridge? Go for it.
posted by supercres at 4:59 PM on November 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

You (typically) do not boil (western-style) stocks, lest they become cloudy, this doesn't have much to do with flavor, but appearance. Sometimes, stocks from other cuisines are purposely boiled because clarity in the end product isn't of concern.

You don't need to boil the feet to release their collagen, you just need to simmer them at a sub-boil temperature in the stock for a while to increase the body. If you have a pressure cooker, you can dramatically reduce this time.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:00 PM on November 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm....not clear on the reasoning as to why you should never boil stock. I mean, hell, sometimes you are asked to boil stock WHEN you are cooking, to concentrate it.

Does she say why you never should do that? Or is this a Grandma's secret for pot roast kind of situation?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:00 PM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, upon reading others' answers, maybe this is what your friend means - that you shouldn't full-tilt boil it, but bringing it TO a boil and then turning it down to a simmer is okay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:02 PM on November 12, 2016

Simmer, don't boil. That will release the collagen just as well and keep your broth clear-looking.

You don't boil stock vigorously when you're making it (ie when there are bones and stuff in it) because that makes it cloudy looking. Small-bubble simmer is what you want.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:09 PM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, you can totally do this. I just did it for an (incredible) lemon orzo soup.
posted by joyceanmachine at 5:51 PM on November 12, 2016

I've done this with premade chicken stock before. Take some canned/boxed stock (or even the Better than Bullion stuff), get it to a low simmer and add some chicken feet and let it cook. (You can also brown some carrots/celery/onions and add them at the same time.) You may need to add back some water that's lost, but makes a huge difference to the final soup.
posted by aspo at 6:43 PM on November 12, 2016

Can I boil the feet in the already made stock without destroying something inherently awesome in the existing stock?

I don't have a scientific answer but I have years of experience in making stocks. Cooking a stock for any extra amount of time doesn't do anything to make it any less of a stock. Sometimes I'll cook a stock for half a day. That amount of heating makes no noticable difference from the times I cook a stock in a couple of hours. So I am guessing the collagen and whatever else it is that makes stock, well, stock needs more than a few hours of stovetop heat to be broken down and no longer be stock.
And minerals don't break down from stovetop heat either (many vitamins do), so you don't have to worry about losing "nutrients" that are in the stock from too much exposure to heat.

So the short answer is yes. I have done the same thing several times (more bones! let's add them to the stock and keep it going!) and it's made no noticable difference to the quality of the stock.
posted by atinna at 9:11 PM on November 12, 2016

Yes, you can boil. And yes, advice not to boil is about clarity of your stick but nothing bad will happen to make it inedible of less tasty.

To reduce grey scum, you can first blanch your chicken feet in enough water to cover. Just boil for a minute then strain. Rinse off the bits of cooked protein. Then add them to your stock.
posted by stellathon at 10:11 PM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is a complete non-problem, perhaps stemming from nomenclature issues over boiling vs simmering and stock vs broth but just do it - it will be delicious!
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:27 AM on November 13, 2016

Demi-glace, the heart of many of those French sauces that you love, is nothing more than boiled stock. As others have noted, you keep the boil at a simmer while the bones and veggies are in to reduce the amount of scum and bits that gets mixed into the stock. Even that is mainly an appearance thing, so you can use the result in clear soups or sauces, I don't think it affects the taste, just keeps the result from looking cloudy. But after you've strained off the stock itself, boiling is fine. Didn't you boil the stock the first time you were making it?
posted by wnissen at 8:02 AM on November 13, 2016

yes, roast them first and then break them up so you get extra collagen. You're just going to make a great stock even better.
posted by [tk] at 1:15 PM on November 13, 2016

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