There are some ingredients that chefs just can't live without, and chicken broth is one of them. Most cooks keep some in their freezers for ramping up the flavor in any given dish, or for serving up hot bowls of soup when there's no time to let it simmer on the stove.
If you're an avid cook, too, chicken broth probably has become one of your own go-to ingredients. Read the tips below for still more ways to prepare and use chicken broth. After all, you can use it in just about any savory dish.
1. Make your own
Stop wasting all that hard-earned money on chicken broth, when it's so easy to make. You can turn a lazy afternoon into a huge stockpot full of chicken broth to have in your freezer for months to come.
Start by freezing bones and leftover meat that won't be put to future use otherwise. Save scraps of celery, carrots, onions and garlic, too. Just keep a bag in your freezer to throw these scraps into whenever you're cooking something else. It's another great way to save money on chicken broth.
When you're ready to make the broth, throw all the vegetable scraps and bones into a large stockpot. Add fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and parsley (or scraps thereof) and a bay leaf or two. Season generously with salt, and add enough water to cover the contents with about two or three inches. You can add more water if you like; it's a great way to get even more broth. Keep in mind that the more water you add, the more the flavor will be diluted.
Bring everything to a rolling boil and then lower the heat to a bare simmer. Let the broth bubble slowly for at least two hours (three or four for big pots with lots in them). Discard the large pieces and use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the broth into freezer containers or resealable plastic bags.
2. Use it in rice
Every time you make rice, you do the same thing: Add rice and twice as much water. Next time, substitute some or all of the water for chicken broth for a jolt of flavor. It really brightens up that boring old rice.
3. Use it to cook spaghetti
Chicken broth makes pasta more flavorful, too. Most of the flavor in pasta dishes is in the sauce; the actual pasta has very little. But fill a pot with broth, bring it to a boil, and drop your pasta in. You can still toss your pasta with marinara sauce, pesto or whatever sauce suits your fancy when it's done. The dish will just be much more flavorful.
4. Use it in mashed potatoes
You could boil potatoes in chicken broth, too, but that's not what this tip is about. Instead, it's about using chicken broth in place of cream when it's time to mash those taters. This still injects a ton of flavor, but it's healthier for those on a reduced-fat or -calorie diet.
Warm the chicken broth a little, just as you would with cream so it doesn't cool the potatoes down. Toss it into the potatoes and mash them as usual. The potatoes will mash up nice and fluffy, but you'll feel just a little lighter after the meal.
5. Make a quick pan sauce
Something about sauce makes meat more appetizing on a plate. But who has time to fiddle with it on a busy weeknight? You do! With chicken broth, it's super-simple.
Cook the meat in a frying pan as you normally would, then remove it to a plate and tent it to rest. Add a little more oil or fat if the pan has run dry, along with chopped onions, scallions, garlic or shallots (whatever you prefer). After sweating the vegetables for just a minute or two, use chicken broth to deglaze the pan and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits from the bottom.
Add fresh herbs, lemon juice, capers, mustard, cream, spices or whatever else goes with your dish and give it a whisk. Let the sauce reduce to thicken, or, if you need it quickly, create a slurry of 3 tablespoons chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Add that to the sauce and stir. Within one minute, it will be a thick, beautiful sauce to accompany your meal.
6. Use it as a substitute for white wine
Whether it's the taste, the smell, or the waste of throwing wine into a dish rather than a glass, cooking with wine just isn't for everybody. Cooking is all about showcasing the ingredients and flavors you love most. So what do you do when a recipe calls for white wine, but you prefer not to cook with it?
Substitute chicken broth for the same amount of wine called for. Chicken broth and white wine are a lot alike in that they go very well with a multitude of flavors. Broth isn't going to throw your dish off — and it allows you to put your very own spin on the meal.