Taste Test: Chicken Broth and Stocks

I have boughten and tested a wide selection of supermarket kinds of chicken stocks through the years. I finally have picked my three favorites and have become very loyal to them. The brands that have tested are Rachel Ray’s Chicken Stock, Wolfgang Puck’s Roasted Chicken Stock, Pacific Free Range Chicken Stock, Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, different kinds of store brand chicken broths, Trader Joe’s Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, Emerill’s Chicken Stock, Swanson’s Chicken Broth, Glace de Poulet Gold, Swanson’s Chicken Cooking Stock, and Kitchen Basics Natural Chicken Stock.

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My criteria for figuring out winner is flavor, salt content, and body. The stock should be a clean taste and have aromatic flavor. When it comes to chicken stock, you shouldn’t be able to taste the salt, because you will most likely be adding fresh herbs to it. The gelatin gives it body, leaves a rich flavor in your mouth and gets even richer as it reduces.

Best Overall:

Swanson’s Chicken Cooking Stock – It has a wonderful chicken flavor with a nice aroma and is well seasoned.

Kitchen Basics Natural Chicken Stock – It has a natural clean flavor and wonderful aroma. You can taste a hint of black pepper, bay and thyme.

Best for Sauces: Glace de Poulet Gold – The gelatinized disk of chicken essence is dissolved in water to make 2 pints of stock. It is well-seasoned, with a rich chicken flavor. The added gelatin gives it the perfect amount of body, making this the top contender for sauce making.

The other brands lost of because they were too salty for my taste.

Only 17% of poll respondents told Food and Wine Magazine in 2003 they wish they had time to make chicken stock from scratch, which suggests most people are happy to use boxed broth or stock instead.

How about trying to make your own? It very simple and you get exactly the right amount of flavor, salt, and body. Here are two methods from http://www.simplyrecipes.com

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Method 1: Leftover Chicken Bones

Leftover bones and skin from a cooked or raw chicken carcass
Celery
Onions
Carrot
Parsley
Salt
Pepper

1) Put the leftover bones and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add veggies like celery, onion, carrots, parsley. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper.

2) Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occassionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface.

3) Remove the bones and strain the stock.

4) If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by simmering a few hours longer to make it more concentrated and easier to store.

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Method 2: Chicken backs, wings, and legs

4 lbs of chicken backs, wings, and/or legs that have been hacked with a cleaver into 2-inch pieces. (You can ask your butcher to prepare the chicken pieces this way.)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Olive oil
2 quarts of boiling water
2 teaspoons of salt
2 bay leaves

1) Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large stock pot. Add one chopped onion. Sauté until softened and slightly colored – 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

2) Add half of the chicken pieces to the pot. Sauté until no longer pink, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onions. Sauté the rest of the chicken the same way. Return onion and chicken pieces to the pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.

3) While the chicken pieces are cooking, fill a large tea kettle with 2 quarts of water, bring to a boil.

4) After the chicken pieces have been cooking for 20 minutes, raise the heat level to high, add the 2 quarts of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 bay leaves. Return to a low simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, then cover and barely simmer for about 20 minutes.

5) Strain stock through cheesecloth or paper towel-lined large sieve, and discard solids. (It helps to remove the big pieces of bone with a slotted spoon first.)

To Store: Pour into freezable jars and let cool, before putting into the refrigerator. Stock will last a week or so in the refrigerator or frozen for several months.

Makes about 2 quarts of stock

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