A Chicken Foot Broth adds flavor to this Spring Vegetable Stew recipe.
“The Nourished Kitchen” by Jennifer McCruther touts the value of animal foods in the diet, and challenges the common assertion that a plant-based diet is the best approach to health and sustainability.
The Nourished Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2014) celebrates the traditions of homemade cooking—techniques that have been forgotten in modern times. Jennifer McGruther is a food educator and advocate for farm fresh foods, and she has become a respected authority on farm-to-table cooking. Featuring 175 recipes for traditional, wholesome foods, this book will take you back to the basics of American cooking. Excerpted from “From the Garden”, this Spring Vegetable Stew recipe is a perfect fresh-tasting course to drive away memories of the cold winter.
After a long winter of heavy dishes—meats, potatoes, root vegetables, and breads—I look forward to the clean and vibrant abundance of spring. I make this Spring Vegetable Stew with the many firsts that spring brings: the first leeks, beans, peas, and artichokes. They stew together in Chicken Foot Broth, which offers up its delicate but still rich flavor as a companion to the vegetables. At the end, I toss in fresh basil, parsley, and mint, which brighten the stew a bit more with their clean and faintly floral notes. Lemon juice and zest add a punch of sourness that further complements the flavors of the stew.
If you do not have fresh lima beans, peas, and artichoke hearts, you can prepare this soup from frozen vegetables—as I often do in autumn and winter if I’ve had the forethought to preserve a little of the spring harvest. Keep in mind, however, that if you do make this stew from frozen vegetables, it will not need to cook as long as it does when using fresh ingredients, and can be finished in about 20 minutes start to finish.
• 1 tablespoon lard
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
• 1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
• Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 3 carrots, peeled and diced
• 4 cups Chicken Foot Broth (see below)
• 2 cups lima beans
• 1 pound English peas, shelled (1 cup)
• 1 cup baby artichoke hearts, halved
• Finely ground unrefined sea salt
• 1/4 cup torn fresh basil
• 1/4 cup torn fresh mint
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Warm the lard and olive oil in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. When the lard melts, stir in the leek and lemon zest and fry until they release their perfume and the leek softens, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in the carrots and fry, stirring from time to time, until crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Stir in the broth, lima beans, peas, and artichoke hearts. Cover and simmer until the vegetables become tender, about 30 minutes.
4. Season to your liking with salt, stir in the herbs and lemon juice, and serve. Serves 4 to 6.
Whenever our local rancher processes chickens, I arrive with bags in hand, not for the whole chickens, but to ask for the feet, lest they feed them to the dogs. Chicken feet have very little marketable value. Gnarly and doubtlessly repulsive with their scaly yellow skin and sharp talons, they nevertheless make the best broth. As with other odd cuts of meat, it’s easy to cast off the humble chicken foot, but in allowing squeamishness to get the better of you, you also miss out on the powerful nourishment and deep flavor they lend to broth, soups, and sauces.
Chicken feet are an extraordinary source of amino acids, particularly collagen, which is why chicken foot broth gels so readily. Its flavor is rich and concentrated, but somehow still delicate.
• 3 pounds chicken feet, scrubbed very well
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 large leek, root tip removed, white and green parts thinly sliced
• 4 ribs celery, chopped
• 3 carrots, chopped
• 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 6 to 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
• 2 bay leaves
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 4 to 6 quarts cold water, plus more as needed
1. If necessary, peel away and discard any yellow membrane that adheres to the chicken feet, then chop off the claws. (The process of defeathering chickens often removes that yellow membrane; however, if it remains, it—and the talons—can create off flavors in the broth.)
2. Combine the chicken feet, onion, leek, celery, carrots, peppercorns, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and wine in a large, heavy stockpot. Cover the chicken feet with the water.
3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 8 to 12 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the feet submerged. From time to time, skim away any scum that might rise to the surface.
4. Strain the broth, discarding the solids, then pour it into jars, cover, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze it for up to 6 months. With chilling, the broth should gel enough that it must be scooped out of the jar with a spoon. This is normal, and the broth will liquefy once you heat it.
5. A thin layer of yellow fat may harden on the surface of the gelled broth; I recommend discarding this fat, as it doesn’t lend itself to cooking. Makes about 4 quarts.
More Recipes from The Nourished Kitchen
Reprinted with permission from The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle by Jennifer McGruther and published by Ten Speed Press, 2014.
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