Romance is in the air, I can feel it in my bones. My chocolate-covered chicken bones. It all started last week when I had houseguests on the way and nary a homemade confection to nestle upon their pillows during turndown service. One half of the visiting couple is particularly stringent about his food being unprocessed, thus something from (chicken) scratch was in order.
I thought about chocolate-covered strawberries, but after a day of travel, when I hit the pillow, I’m looking for a little more excitement. I opened the refrigerator to gain inspiration, and the package of chicken feet I had slated for stock sat front and center. I contemplated the diaphanous digits, and suddenly one of them curled inward, beckoning me to come hither.
As any logician would do at that moment, I came up with what you see here: chocolate-covered chipotle chicken feet. This classic dish walks the line of tradition and modernism with the sure feet of a ballerina. Or it would if it was alive. My timing couldn’t be better, since this is a natural play-it-safe choice for Valentine’s Day dessert. Imagine gazing deeply into your lover’s eyes, while both of you suck hungrily on sinew, gristle, and chocolate. There is no greater aphrodisiac.
These chicken feet double as nipple pasties, lest you be inclined to greet your sweetheart with a tantalizing tongueful of edible lingerie. And if you’re planning to pop the question anytime soon, know that popping champagne is so last year compared to popping chocolate-drenched knuckles into your mouths to celebrate.
The method is simple and it starts with a pedicure. Chickens, like humans, deserve the dignity of a little pampering (plus their toenails impart bitterness). In addition to clipping off their nails, give the pads of the feet a good buffing with a vegetable brush; channel the gals at the nail salon. Then put them in the pressure cooker with just enough water to cover them, along with half a cup of maple syrup (exfoliating), quarter cup of hoisin sauce* (moisturizing), and two tablespoons of cider vinegar (astringent).
Bring the pressure cooker to temperature on high, and then adjust the heat on the stove so steam emits in a steady stream for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the steam to escape naturally before opening the cooker. At this point, pour one inch duck fat or canola oil in the bottom of a deep pan and heat it to 375°F. Remove the chicken feet from the pressure cooker, pat dry and deep fry until golden and crispy, about one minute.
All that’s left now is to coat the feet in melted, tempered (if you wish) chocolate, and once it hardens, dip each toe in powdered chipotle pepper or paprika. If you don’t like spice, you may dip the toes in salt instead, of course the final presentation is a little more redolent of a certain other white powder you found on fingernails quite commonly during the clubby 1980’s.
In honor of the season of romance, I’ll say goodbye with a short ode:
You’re the chipot to my le
I want to suck you and more
This Valentine’s Day
*for a gluten-free version, use GF hoisin sauce