Friday, August 27, 2010

Cooking with Cow Feet

Nancy here.

This is a follow-on to the earlier post on cooking with chicken feet, here:

This post is for those who have been asking about my latest cooking experiment and whether I really did do the cow feet broth.  

The answer is:  Yes!!!  Happy to report, I met the Senoras' challenge! 
 No pictures, but you can imagine.

Not much on the Internet about cooking with cow feet, so I looked to Cuencano friends (the'challengers') for guidance and winged it a little.

Well........  would I do the cow feet broth again?  You bet!  But, it was personally difficult...I'm hoping it gets easier as I make more.  Smelly, gaggy, disgusting...all that.

First, I picked up some cow feet and some meat (cow? ox? pig?) parts at the Co-op.  Not sure what the parts were, but could have been tail?  Short ribs?  The parts were meaty, with a bone in the middle of the pieces and lots of fat and gristle, about 2 inches across and about an inch thick.  The gal at the store said they were good for soup.   OK, so I bought them, along with the cow feet. 

The other parts could have been cow knees?  Rich had cow-knee soup recently in town and he thought it was a little game-y, but good.  But, he's a more adventurous eater than I am.  I'll be brushing up on my animal anatomy soon so I'll know what I'm buying.  And, eating...

Besides trying to 'meet the challenge' (egged on by a couple of Senoras here), I've read that homemade cow feet broth is good for you, with lots of minerals and vitamins. You can control the ingredients, too...less salt, no sugar, etc.  But, I think making the broth is a bit of a stretch for those of us born and raised in a US City.  You need to also be brave.

So, here goes...........

First, I boiled the feet/hooves in water for about 15 minutes.  They looked dirty and smelled so strong!, so I thought I'd try to sterilize and clean them up first.  After the boil, I dumped the old water and started over with new for the broth..

I browned the beef parts and the hooves in a skillet on the top of the stove (I suppose you could roast them in the oven instead)...what a terrible smell!  It smelled really bad, like a tanning/leather business or a pet food factory or a slaughter house.  My sisters will remember that horrific smell of the whaling station from our childhood...yes, like that!  Strong and gaggy.  Had to be the leather/skin/hoofs/horn and who-knows-what on the feet. 
 I got through the browning stage without passing out! A major accomplishment, I thought...

Then, I added the browned parts and vegetables (carrots, onion, celery, green peppers, peppercorns and bay leaf, some vinegar) in the stew pot with water.  It simmered for about 10 hours.  I think next time I'll try to simmer it even longer. 

I'd read that adding the vinegar to the bones helps release the calcium and other minerals...I added a couple glugs of apple cider vinegar.

Then, I strained the soup, saving the beef parts (dumping the yucky hoofs and the bones, gristle, fat along with the soggy vegetables).  Actually, the meat from the parts is pretty good!  Took awhile to get all the fat and gush off the meat, but it tasted good!

Then I reduced the clean, brown broth for about an hour...not too much fat to skim off.  I'm so *relieved* to report the broth is way good!

After the broth was refrigerated, it 'gelled', just like it was supposed to. Just like the chicken feet jello earlier.  Cuencano friends tell me the broth looks and tastes 'just right'.  Yay!  Success!!

So --  to all my adventurous USA cooking friends/family reading this........Go for it!  I'm sure your local butcher can find some cow feet for brave!  If even I can do it (rubber gloves and all),  I know you can, too.  Well worth it all.  Really.

I've used the broth for roasting beef ribs with onion/garlic, really good!  And, the latest soup is with potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, meat from the ribs, onion...a really good, hearty soup. 

Now, back to the chicken feet. Hopefully, one of these days, I'll be able to report that I've 'crossed over' and it's just a routine thing for me.  Practice makes perfect.

No telling what the next challenge will be! 


  1. Nancy, You are such an adventurous soul. You are my broth heroine. Thank you very much for sharing. I'm still working up the nerve.

  2. Very impressive. Can you top cow's feet? I have a couple of suggestions but this is a family friendly blog.

    Kudos for your sense of adventure

  3. Thanks for this Nancy! I just bought some hooves from my dairy/beef supplier the other day and have been hoping to get some tips on how to clean them up. (someone sent me your blog) I had to skin mine though and the hair got stuck to the fat and was really hard to get off. I boiled it for 10 mins and then roasted it to try to melt away the fat- which I will just remove since the hair is still there. I hope my stock comes out as successful as yours did!

  4. Hola Karen!
    Welcome to the cow feet broth club!
    Thanks for your experiences, I'm still learning, too. I'm going to try your method next.
    Happy soup-making,

  5. Hi Nancy! My family has been cooking cow feet for years. It's a family event and here how we do it. This should help, because when bought from the store it truly is a disguising product, but handled properly, it will give you a magical broth. We make this bi annually because it's such a hassle and invite a ton of people over... So, you get the feet home and the first thing you do is take a very sharp knife and scrape of as much of the outer layer as you can... You dont cut into the hooves but you scrape away grime and hair. Hair follicles are deep so try to get as much as you can. (don't worry if you cant get it all because this wont be the last time you scrape). Once scraped, place the hooves in a bucket under running water... Not a gushing torrent but something above a drip is ideal. Keep the water flowing... The next day, you will scrape the hooves again and back in the water... Day 3? Yup, scrape and back in the water... Day 4 is when the magic happens... You inspect the hooves one last time ensuring that there are no hairs left on those horrible things and then you boil em! The first boil, you will throw out, the second boil you will throw out as well, the third boil you keep and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, constantly skimming the broth as "stuff" accumulates. about two hours in the smell will take over and you wont remember the horror you went through in preparing it because it's one of the most amazing foods this side of Venus. To eat, just sprinkle with as much salt and raw mashed garlic as you like in your bowl and go at it! We like to dry out flat Armenian bread called lavash and sprinkle it in the broth and eat the hydrated lavash... Goes really well on a cold Sunday morning with some Peperoncini, white Asian radish and a ton of ice cold Vodka! It truly does become an event!

  6. Thank you for the information! What would the procedure be if I just wanted to make broth instead of eating the feet??? Can you give me any tips on that? I presume that the steps would be the same up until you get to the cooking part.....right? Any help would be appreciated! ;-)

  7. Thanks for all of the info on cooking the feet! Can you tell me if I wanted to make broth from the feet would the steps be the same????? Does it smell really bad for the entire time that it's cooking????? When I make bone broth with the bones I cook the bones for 24 or more hours, would I do this with the feet??? I'm getting feet from the farmer in a couple of weeks, he's going to save them for me when he slaughters the next cow but I wasn't sure how to begin until I read your comment. I'm afraid that if it smells too bad the entire 24 hours my husband will throw us out of the house! lol

  8. Hi Cristina, thanks for your comments.
    For broth only, you can just strain the feet out of the broth. Treat the feet as bones. Yes, the process is pretty stinky, but well worth it. If you can cook outside, it would be best and maybe keep the husbands (and the cooks) happier.
    Good Luck!

  9. Hi Nancy! In Armenia cow feet is a delicacy we refer to as Khash. It takes a lot of work to get a beautiful golden broth out of them though so here are some tips for the next time. Here’s how we make it. First you’ll need a sharp knife. Take the feet and scrape it all over with the knife. Scrape off anything and everything. Once you e done that you’ll place the feet in a pot and leave it under slow running water for 24 hours. The next day you’ll scrape again and place it under running water again. Repeat the process one more time. All together you’ll have scraped the feet three times and left it under running water for 48 hours. When you’re ready to cook you’ll boil the feet for 20 to 40 minutes and throw away the first batch of broth. For the next batch you’ll fill the pot with enough water to cover the feet with about two inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer it for about 2 hours. Once the broth is ready strain the liquid gold and repeat with fresh water. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with feet. Simmer again for about another two hours then strain and combine both broths. We eat the broth with fresh garlic and salt to taste added directly into your own bowl. We then crush up dried lavash, an Armenian bread, directly into the broth until it’s all soaked up. Yum yum gimme some.