There is one very last thing I have to say about stock before moving on. Unless you write Burnt My Fingers, you too are probably sick of the debate about the preferred method for making this flavor base.
Probably my favorite part of this conversation was Chef Tanner’s comment. One of the things he spelled out is the difference between stock and broth. Broth, he says, is made from meat, while stock is made from bones.
So what one buys at the grocery store, which is liquid and not gelatinous when cool, is technically broth and not stock. That fact actually makes the title of this post problematic. But I couldn’t resist the nod to Star Trek. Now what I need to tell you about is a little trick I picked up from Julia Child (if I recall correctly) about what to do should you find yourself in a cooking emergency surrounded by little more than store bought chicken broth.
Or should you be one of those people who really just doesn’t want to bother tending a pot of simmering liquid for three hours, but still wants to cook tasty food, I’ve got the solution.
Store-bought chicken broth can be improved dramatically with this simple notion: use it to make a secondary broth from fresh ingredients. Hopefully you have them laying around the house.
All you need is half of an onion, two cloves, one bay leaf, a carrot and a stalk of celery.
I’ve always used the cloves as tacks to fix the bay leaf onto the flat cut side of the peeled onion. The carrot gets peeled, and both it and the celery get cut into large chunks. Then you simmer for as long as you can, them with the store-bought broth, remove the vegetables, and use the doctored broth with confidence.
This is an effective way of taking the mass-produced taste out what is effectively an industrial product, and giving it the wholesome goodness of something made from scratch. No, it’s still not the same as the real thing. But it will do in a pinch.
Truth be told, I relied on this method for a long time.
Now that our family is in the habit of eating roast chicken on Friday nights, we produce a lot of carcasses. And since I started regularly making stock a few years ago, I’ve never been without at least some frozen cubes of the stuff in the freezer.
But that wasn’t always the case. Keeping yourself in homemade stock, even if it’s reduced and kept in the freezer, is a commitment of time and energy to the project. Not everyone is willing to put in the effort for tastier food, and not everyone has the kind of schedule that can accommodate a major cooking project every few weeks.
If that’s you, there’s the doctor.
And if you are missing an ingredient, do it anyway. If you only have five minutes before the broth is called into service, that’s five minutes it can improve from its shelf stable condition. Feel free to make substitutions. Add some more greenery like fresh parsley or dill. Anything to wake it up, and the broth will be seriously improved.
Okay. Now have a great weekend, and tell your mother you love her.