While cooking chicken feet is pretty straightforward, there’s an art to making them perfectly. A man who knows a thing or two about this is Absalom Kotsokoane, executive chef of Moeng SA in Johannesburg. He kindly shared his secrets to cooking chicken feet for those looking for a fun weekend cooking project to tackle.
If you’re not familiar with Moeng SA, it’s a modern celebration of African food and culture. Chef Absalom’s menu “shows off, celebrates and embraces African ingredients” in an inventive and delicious. “You could say it’s a modern twist of African food, but if there was a term to sum up our cooking style, it would be soul food.”
We hear Moeng SA’s chicken feet are legendary. Can you share how you serve them in the restaurant? What do you love most about chicken feet?
Chicken feet are indeed legendary and popular in all corners of Africa. We celebrate this product in two ways, oven-baked and stewed. The oven-baked chicken feet are marinated, then grilled in the oven and usually served as snack or canapé. We cook them with lemon and orange to add a bit of tangy citrus, then we serve them with sliced orange and fresh parsley with something starchy.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to cook chicken feet at home? How do you properly clean and prepare them for cooking?
Life is complicated enough, so let’s make it simple. Put the chicken feet in hot water for 15 minutes, after which the outer skin will come off easily. Be careful not to overcook them – 20–25 minutes is sufficient for cooking. In terms of flavours, use any herbs and veggies you have at home. I prefer to marinate them overnight and then ovenbake them.
How does someone know when their chicken feet are cooked and ready to serve? What are they looking for in terms of texture or tenderness?
If you cut into them and the juices run clear, then they’re fully cooked. Theywill absorb the sauce, which guarantees they’ll be finger-licking good! It’s difficult to undercook chicken feet, but any pinkish colour means they need to be cooked a bit longer.
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Any other tips or advice for someone wanting to cook them at home?
This is one of the most delicate pieces of protein, so don’t complicate it. Less is more! Taste, taste and taste before serving and finish off with a bit of garnish – you can’t go wrong.