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What Are the Best Tips for Cooking with Chicken Stock?

By Eugene P.
Updated May 17, 2024
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When cooking with chicken stock, there are a few tips to be aware of to ensure that any dishes cooked with the stock result in a meal that tastes the way it was intended. Most importantly, one should be aware of the ingredients and properties of the chicken stock to be used, because the flavor might not be what is expected. Cooking with chicken stock for added flavor does not always require using it as a substitute for all the water in a dish, meaning the stock can be combined with water or other stocks for a different or muted flavor. For higher-end recipes with delicate flavors, the difference between cooking with chicken stock and cooking with chicken broth can cause the flavor, appearance or richness of the finished dish to be slightly off, although the difference can be trivial for most applications.

Commercially produced chicken stock is often not made just from chicken parts and vegetables. Ingredients such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium or other spices can sometimes be added to give the stock a more distinct flavor. This can be very beneficial when cooking with chicken stock to make a soup or other dilute mixture, but it can be troublesome in a sauce that needs to be reduced. Tasting the stock before using it can help clarify what the final result will be, especially if the stock has a high amount of salt that will condense and become stronger as it reduces.

If the chicken stock is being used as a substitute for water in a recipe, then some care should be taken in deciding how much to use. The taste of chicken stock can be overpowering in some dishes, and it is common not to use pure chicken stock, but instead to use a combination of stock and water, or chicken and vegetable stock mixed together. When cooking with chicken stock as a liquid for reconstituting dry ingredients such as pasta or beans, the ingredients will carry a good amount of the flavor with them to the final meal. Chicken stock also should be used sparingly when cooking dried beans, because extra salt molecules can clog the pores of the beans and increase the amount of time it takes for the beans to become soft.

Although the difference might be trivial in most situations, and some manufacturers do not strictly adhere to it, there is a difference between chicken stock and chicken broth. Stock is made mostly from the bones and other parts of a chicken, while broth is made mostly from the meat of the chicken. Ultimately, when cooking with chicken stock, this might only make a difference in dishes that call for stock explicitly and are using it to achieve a very specific result that a thinly flavored, clouded broth might not be able to fulfill.

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