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Stock in a Box

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm seeing more cooks and chefs on Food Network using boxed stocks and broth, and it seems to me such a product adds to the "dumbing down" and the reduction of cooking skills. What a shame that they continue to promote such a product. I've tried every brand and style of boxed chicken stock I can find on the shelves in the markets around here - they all are grossly inferior to even the poorly made stock I sometimes end up with. There's one chicken stock - Imagine Stock, in a reddish package http://www.imaginefoods.com/images/p...8425394088.jpg - that's just about acceptable, although it's about $4.00 or more for a 1-quart box. And the ingredient list doesn't leave me jumping for joy, and I'm not particularly fond of the corporate ownership of the product.

I'll admit that I sometimes crave the convenience that can be gotten off the shelf somewhere, but I'm not willing to give up taste or quality on a regular basis to get it.

Is there ANY boxed or canned chicken broth or stock that you've found satisfactory, and that compares reasonably well with home made?

Shel
post #2 of 27
I agree. It's just that most chefs think its a hassle to make a 6-hour stock with all that chopping ,simmering, etc. (And don't forget saving all those extra bones in the freezer) if you're only going to use about a 1/4 cup of it for something like chicken pot pie or marinara sauce that'll taste great no matter what as long as it's homemade. However, I have found success using the Wolfgang puck varieties. It almost tastes homemade, without all the work. I despise things such as Swanson, etc. Wolfgang Puck is actually pretty good. I reccomend using it.
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post #3 of 27
Haven't tried the Wolfgang Puck brand, but have sampled three or four others, and have yet to find one that comes close to real stock in flavor or consistency.

So, Rachael and Sandra can keep it, far as I'm concerned.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 27
Caprial was backing one from Pacific Natural at one time. I don't know how good it is. I see quite a bit of their product in the organic/healthfood section at my grocery store.
Pacific Natural Foods | Broths
It's ingredient list isn't terrifying like so many are.

The aseptic box style packaging has more potential for good flavor than a can IMHO. Doesn't mean any tastes good yet.

phil
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post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Not very good ... better than some, but still a lower-tier product IMO.

Shel
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
I've seen Tyler Florence, Giada, and I believe Alton Brown use the stuff as well. Maybe others - Robin Miller? The use of boxed stock seems to be spreading.

Shel
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'll give it a try if I can find it here. I may have to go to a store that I don't usually frequent. Thanks for the suggestion.

Shel
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
And yet you see it written and hear it said with such great frequency that good stock can be the basis for great cooking. Having visted a few great kitchens and seen some excellent, well regarded chefs and staff work, it was clear that they all made their own stock.

Shel
post #9 of 27
I didn't used to make stock because of storage space issues (small, lousy freezer in my fridge, since replaced w/ a modern one) until I realized I could use my pressure cooker to can stock (now, of course, I freeze it, but canning it is quite easy, cheap, & works a treat).

I haven't tried anything that comes close to homemade. Anywhere near close. Not in the same time zone. I haven't tried the high-end demi-glace & such that you can find at, well, high-end stores. Stuff is wicked expensive, though. If you have more money than time, try some & let us know how it is.

If time is a problem, I've had excellent results making stock in a large slow cooker. You can make a half-gallon plus batch & it requires practically no attention at all.

I've made some pretty tasty food with commercial broth. Homemade, to me at least, is quite noticeably better. If it was a small difference, I would bother. It isn't.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #10 of 27
I tried several different brands that are available near my house searching for one that added a nice flavor and texture. I didn't find any that would replace a homemade stock...but I could say that Wolfgang was one of the poorer performers.

:bounce: dan
post #11 of 27
Let's face it, there is no way a store bought broth can compare to a good home made stock. Not even close. But I always have a carton or two on hand for convenience. If the stock/broth is not that star of the show, as Austin says, it is mighty convenient. I'm sometimes reluctant to use my "liquid gold" where it may be drowned out by other flavors/ingredients.

Jock
post #12 of 27

Ranting at the wrong thing..

The difference between bought stock and homemade is certainly relevant, but since you opened your argument with

"I'm seeing more cooks and chefs on Food Network using boxed stocks and broth..."

It is a little like saying "I am always disturbed that they drink Coke on the OC when Red Bull is so much better"

They are using stock because it is product placement. Food Network is not a "cooking channel" or designed for chefs or serious cooks. They are commercial television and structure their shows along that line.

But to jump into the argument: Commercial stock has its place the trick is to find a product that is decent. Just because you see restaurants make there own stock, they don't use housemade stock for everything. Many top restaurants will use a commercialy made stock for some reductions and sauces (psst. Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter) for very valid reasons. (check out Bonewerks at :: Welcome to CulinArte' Bonewerks :::)

Stock isn't so easy as to dump a bunch of stuff in a pot and simmer. It takes the right stuff, the right balance, and constant attention. If someone is too busy, working at a job, feeding the kids, mowing the lawn, doing their taxes, walking the dog, and spending 3 hours on a stock is going to keep them from trying that great rissotto idea they read about....then I say BRING ON THE BOX. Cooking is a journey and good cooks take differnt routes. Every professional chef takes a short cut or two and every home "gourmet" cook uses tools and recipes that would make a professional chef shudder.

Ahem....sorry about that.
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post #13 of 27
BRING ON THE BOX indeed. I couldn't agree more that the homemade stock is better BUT for someone like me, with a 10-hour day punctuated on each end by a 90-minute commute, there isn't the time to make my own. By the same token I can make salsas and dips that kick Chi-chi's butt but I still pick up the Pace at the market occasionally.
post #14 of 27
I think you can make an argument for the box stock that it's much more convenient. But it's place stops there...it just doesn't compare in other places.

I'm just a home cook...and I do use (and appreciate) the boxed stock. I use it in a quick (dump) meal. But when I make a homemade meal I'll always use my stock. No, I don't make homemade stock every time I cook a decent meal. But I do make a large batch of Chicken, beef and veal stock a couple of times a year. I'll freeze the stock in one cup measurements in muffin tins. Then...when I need four cups of chicken stock...I take out four one cup cubes.


happy cookin'
dan
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
I think the main point of my original post got lost along the way. Sure, box stocks are convenient - so is McDonalds. However, when you see well known chefs promoting it's use, and not even suggesting that a good, home made stock is an alternative - and sometimes a better alternative for taste and quality - it just doesn't seem right.

As for the poster who suggested that FN does product placement, that's not 100% true. FN obscures the labels on many of the products used in their shows - in fact, they have a department that actually designs and applies phoney labels to the products that are used on the shows. There have been a few exceptions, and those that I've seen have been photographed in such a way as to not show the labels of the products used. It doesn't always work out that way, but for the most part, it does.

So, IMO, what we have is not so much product placement as promotion of boxed stocks in general. MOre and more I'm seeing shows that promote the assembly of meals rather than cooking and preparation. Niot that that's all bad, but it does lead to the dumbing down of cooking.

Sorry, but I believe that cooking shows should be promoting the use of quality ingredients, techniques that show how to prepare those ingredients in a cost and time efficient manner, as well as good recipe ideas.

Shel
post #16 of 27
I sympathize, Shel, but a cooking show's purpose is to deliver eyeballs to advertisers. Nothing more. Anything good that happens along the way is gravy, so to speak.

As for a dumbing-down of cooking, well, is that really a huge problem? Anyone whose cooking begins & ends with what they see on television gets what they deserve. AND they're probably happy with that. AND they're probably cooking & eating better than they were before to boot.

If, as is probably common enough, someone makes something pretty tasty off TV & is inspired to dig a little deeper, they're not going to get too far without hearing & reading the praises of homemade stock. And if they have the time & inclination, they'll try it.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #17 of 27
IMHPO, Stock,in it's basic hot off the stove form, has relatively little of rounded flavor that comes from what you do with the stock. It should almost be flat with the hint of what it is. It isn't untill you add the herbs, salt and other ingredients of the recipe it is being used in that it takes on a true life. So please don't confuse stocks with broths, reductions, or the "finished product".

As far as boxed vs. fresh. There is nothing that beats fresh so for argument sake, when you can make fresh then that's what should be used. As an alternative, again IMHPO, a boxed stock when using all the same ingredients and technique that I would in a fresh made version, is available, that would be my preferance basically because of the shelf stable nature of the product. Now If I could put a walk-in freezer and refrigerator in my home, that would be a different story.

And for anyone that has ever used a "base" or "flavor enhancer" to help a fresh made stock along...... Then you need not slam the box stuff and just call it a difference in technique.

The only boxed stock I have found that has absolutly no "extra ingredients" or excessive salt is made by Kitchen Basics. The list of ingredients is simple. Take chicken stock for example. Water, Chicken bones, vegetable stocks (celery, onion, carrot and mushroom), bay, thyme, pepper and...... nothing else. Not even salt. Definitely tastes flat until I add the other ingredients.

As far as I'm concerned ther is a great deal of "ba$tardized" foods out there and those should be emptied off the shelves like yesterdays trash. But there are a couple alternatives to the 18hr process (and yes if you're gonna do it correctly it is an 18hr process) that should be given a chance. Just because TFN has sold out doesn't mean that all the stuff they're peddling is crap. Consider some of the things your "diamond in the rough".:D
post #18 of 27
Hi

Do you know if it is sold in Canada ? , i can only find it on amazon, not too keen of amazon :(
post #19 of 27
Agreed. Sorry, I meant to say few. I was mainly refering to Rachael Ray, Sandra lee escpecially, etc., who aren't really chefs, but rely on storebought, easy, quick, etc culinary point of views. You're right- a good stock is quite often the base of great culinary creations. I honestly cannot stand the taste of chicken noodle soup with canned broth- but it is utterly divine with a rich, homemade one. There are many chefs who are all 100% homemade, and I realized what I just said was stupid. Again, I was mainly refering to Sandra lee, Rachael ray, and not that's it a bad thing, but whose recipes are based on either semi-homemade, or quick and easy. Now that I think of it, I can't remember many restaurants I ever went to that used canned broth in the first place.
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post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
Then we have a fundamental difference of opinion about the purpose of a cooking show ...

Shel
post #21 of 27

I'm curious, Shel

Just what do you think is the purpose of a cooking show, if not to deliver eyeballs to advertisers?

I would also disagree with you about the whole concept of the dumbing down of cookery. In fact, just the opposite has been happening the past decade or so.

If you want to discuss this we can start a new thread, rather than hijack this one any further.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
To teach techniques, explore new possibilities, to inspire the viewers and let them know that they can be creative and provide good food and meals in ways other than using prepared foods. To me, that's not cooking. That's assemblage.

Sure start a new thread if you'd like.

Shel
post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
I've never used any enhancers - don't think I ever would.

Kitchen Basics huh ... FWIW - and it may not be worth very much - Cook's Illustrated did a taste test on numerous chicken broths, and Kitchen Basics was not recommended.
Not one taster believed this brand really was chicken broth. Medicinal and beefy - are you sure this is chicken?" asked one worried tester. "Tastes like vegemite tea." Beads of oil floated on top
I found the product to be rather distasteful myself.

Shel
post #24 of 27
I use Swanson's Natural Goodness (reduced sodium) as the basis of my broth. I can't say it's stock; no bones are involved.

I simmer a good deal of leek, dill, parsley and some carrots in the broth for at least an hour. It comes out delicous. I don't do this to save time; I do this to avoid the mess of using fresh chicken. I made my first pot of homemade chicken soup when I was about 10 years old, so I know whereof I speak.
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post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 
I am going to try one or two of the Swanson products and maybe the Wolfgang Puck. Of all the products I know of, those are the only ones I've not tried. My purpose in using them would be to save time if I'm out of stock in my freezer and feel a desire to make something that requires a broth.

I sometimes use the terms stock and broth interchangeably. I usually mean broth - what I make is made from meat on the bone - using whole legs, wings, backs, and so on.

Yesterday my poultry guy gave me about 5-lbs of breast bones with plenty of meat on them ;-))

Thanks,

Shel
post #26 of 27
Shel,

This is not meant to mince words but does that mean you have never used a base like Minors, LeGout, Better than Boullion or (God forbid) any number of the the dozen other bases out there that utilize salt as the main ingredient? BTW none of the three listed have salt as the main ingredient.

I never put much stock (no pun intended) in cooks illustrated and with that said taste and opinions (mine included) are extreemly subjective.

It certainly wasn't my objective to sway or completely change your opinion. All I wanted to do was just offer an option I believed to be worth looking into. I guess after 30 years cooking professionally, hundreds of recipes and over 20 successful menu's designed (not including the concepts that utilized seasonal menu's) my pallette is just not as defined as yours? Then again you did ask in the first post if we had found any stock out there to be of satisfactory quality.
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 
Never, never, never. In fact, I've never heard of the first two.

As for Cook's Illustrated, I did say FWIW. While I think CI has something to offer, I let my (gift) subscrition lapse. This was in part because many of their revelations were things that I, as an amatuer cook, had known about for years, although they made a big deal about their discoveries. I don't hold CI in as high esteem as others might.

True, I did ask for alternatives, and I hope I didn't come across as "snippy" with my comments on your chicken broth suggestion. I didn't mean to be, that's for sure.

My philosophy in cooking - as in many areas of my life - is to keep things real and simple. I'm not one for shortcuts or time saving devices or techniques, unless there's a real benefit, sometimes more than just saving time.

I'd rather do without than use something I don't like or that removes me too far from the process. I suppose that when it comes to stock/broth, I just like making it. I like the idea of saving meat or chicken pieces in the fridge or freezer, I like the interaction at the market with the customers and staff when buying needed items, the way the house smells when the 12-quart stockpot is simmering. I even like snacking on the used up meat, especially chicken pieces. I pull whatever spent meat I can from the bones, sit at the table, and nibble away, sharing the treat with my cats, who love the stuff. I sometimes put some Marie Sharp's hot sauce on my pieces.

For me it's more than just an end result - it's the journey that matters as well, perhaps as much as the result. And, silly as it may sound, it's wonderful sharing a meal with "mis gatos."

Thus far I've not found anything to make me want to take a shortcut on my journey to making good broth.

Shel
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