My wife could tell that something eerie and out of place was going on in the kitchen, and she was not happy. I tried to play it cool, but the barely bubbling stockpot on the stove (that is big enough to take a bath in) told a much different story. It was while I was walking upstairs that I heard the deafening scream:
“What the expletive expletive is that?”
“It is time to play it cool,” I told myself. “Well, sweetie, that’s chicken stock.”
She knew better. “Why are there FEET in it then, and WHEN are you planning on getting rid of it?” she yelled angrily. There was a real sense of urgency in her voice.
My thoughts – no, my dreams quickly raced to the thrill of the reconnaissance mission it took to sneak the chicken feet into the house, the glorious smell of their resultant (barely bubbling) collagen and gelatin rich stock, and the myriad delightful meals that would come next. It was obvious that my wife and I didn’t see eye to eye. “It needs to cook for a few more hours, but I promise that they will be gone by bedtime.” Hardly the answer that she wanted, but it worked.
When I finally made it upstairs, my mind was permanently fixed on the rich and golden stock that I was making. How would I use it? What glorious creation would come to mind? Would my wife even dare to eat it?
The first obvious question is: WHY CHICKEN FEET? Simple. Two words; collagen and gelatin. The feet contain ample amounts of both proteins. The second question is: WHY BARELY BUBBLING? Stocks should be started in cold water and cooked at a point that is referred to as “smiling” (which is barely bubbling!!!!) so that the long strands of amino acids that make up the proteins are gently coaxed outside of the chicken feet and into the stock packing a flavorful chicken flavored punch.
I felt a certain exuberance and nostalgia using the feet, like I was a hero scooping up some treasure that no one else valued. I ran downstairs again just hoping that another treasure was in my refrigerator: Parmigiano Reggiano rinds. Often discarded, the rind from true Parmigiano cheese transforms into individual noodles made of cheese when simmered in a good chicken stock, which I just happened to have! All I would need is some kale, a bulb of garlic, black pepper, and truffle oil (insert sigh of extravagance here).
The strained chicken stock spent the night in the refrigerator (much as my wife’s reaction made me think I would have to do) while I happily dreamed of the next day’s soup.
Next morning, I opened the refrigerator and grabbed the stock in its plastic Lexan container. Instantly I was in gelatin heaven. The stock was a solid mass of chicken foot love reminiscent of a Jell-O flavor that never quite made it to production. I folded up my black ski mask and whispered, “Once my wife tastes this, I won’t need you anymore, my friend.”