Hearty Stock Made with Ma Joad’s Chicken Feet

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“‘Sure,’ said Joad. ‘I wonder Pa went so easy. I wonder Grampa didn’ kill nobody. Nobody never tol’ Grampa where to put his feet. An’ Ma ain’t nobody you can push aroun’, neither. I seen her beat the hell out of a tin peddler with a live chicken one time ’cause he give her a argument. She had the chicken in one han’, an’ the ax in the other, about to cut its head off. She aimed to go for that peddler with the ax, but she forgot which han’ was which, an’ she takes after him with the chicken. Couldn’ even eat that chicken when she got done. They wasn’t nothing but a pair a legs in her han’. Grampa throwed his hip outa joint laughin’. How’d my folks go so easy?'”  From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I didn’t really make my stock with chicken feet.  I defrosted the bones from the chicken I’d cooked earlier.  I love Ma Joad.  She is quite the firebrand woman.  She threatens her whole family with a car jack handle when they’re about to split up on the road and each and every one of them backs down to her.  It is hard to imagine her allowing some bank man to come onto her property and tell her she’s got to give it up and go.  But, really, none of the Joads paid that any mind until a tractor ran their house off it’s foundation and they had no choice but to go.

Hearty Chicken Stock

Bones of 1 chicken

1 onion quartered

3 cloves of garlic peeled

Spices of your choice (I used rosemary and thyme this go around, I didn’t have any bay leaf left, but I usually use that)

Salt and Pepper

Boil until the water runs down and then boil some more 

I don’t think there’s any way you could possibly make this any cheaper.  You could make it fancier:  I know some folks have fine ideas about a nice clear broth made up with a bouquet garni and some vegetables that you barely boil and then throw away, but I enjoy a thick, hearty stock.  I don’t know where I got the idea that the stock had to boil for hours and hours, or whether I just made it up, but I mostly let mine boil until the onions are almost melted clear away into the broth.  Tomorrow I will drain off the fat and make this into some kind of tasty soup, not sure yet what kind, but I still have leftover potatoes and carrots which will get a feature spot one way or the other.



Filed under Books, Cheaper Cooking, Chicken, Cooking and Reading, Food, Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, Literature, Recipes, The Great Depression

4 responses to “Hearty Stock Made with Ma Joad’s Chicken Feet

  1. this is very interesting i have never tried this!! could you check out my blog please!!?

  2. Thank you. Making chicken stock is so easy and so much better than using the cubes or the canned stuff. I checked out your blog. Interesting stuff!

  3. It’s been a while since I’ve read ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ thanks for sharing the excerpt and the recipe! The chicken stock looks great! Looks much tastier and less salty than some alternatives.

  4. I am guilty of using a lot of bouillon cubes, but really nothing beats the real thing, so I try to make a stock every time I have meat bones handy (After Easter, it’ll be a ham bone and probably a ham-corn chowder).

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