Alternatives to Chicken Broth

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Chicken broth changes the texture of dishes while giving them richer flavor. Chicken is only one source of flavorful broths; chefs use a variety of flavorful liquids as a base for soups or a foundation for sauces. Although casual cooks use the term "broth" and "stock" interchangeably, the two differ slightly. Stock includes bones, meat and few spices; broth is the liquid remainder from boiled meat and a variety of spices. Packaged chicken broth typically contains the sage, thyme and marjoram flavors that make up poultry seasoning, so adding a pinch of the seasoning makes any liquid taste more like prepared chicken broth.

Bouillon

  • Bouillon is the French word for stock. English speakers use the term to describe flakes or cubes of dehydrated, flavored stock. Add a cube of bouillon to tepid water according to the manufacturer's directions to make the volume of broth that you need. Chicken, beef, veal or vegetable bouillon taste different from one another, but function identically within a recipe. Use a bouillon flavor that suits your tastes.

Dashi

  • Traditional Japanese dashi is a stock that consists of combinations of dried seaweeds and flakes of dried or fermented fish. Its flavor ranges from a mild marine saltiness to a strong seafood flavor. Dashi prominently features savory umami, called the "fifth flavor." Supermarkets that specialize in Asian foods feature a range of instant versions of this essential Japanese ingredient. Mild kombu dashi contains kombu seaweed as its main flavoring agent, but check the packaging for bonito (fish) flakes if you want a vegan version of this Japanese broth.

Vegetable Broth

  • Vegetables lose their flavor to water as they boil, but the less flavor these vegetables contain, the more potent the resulting liquid becomes. Cook flavorful vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions and bell peppers in water for 30 to 45 minutes to create vegetable broth. Grocery stores also carry prepackaged vegetable broths and stocks for cooks with too little time to make their own broth.

Water

  • Odorless, colorless and flavorless water behaves identically to chicken stock in a dish, but imparts no taste of its own to the dish. Using water in place of chicken stock will result in a milder, less flavorful finished product. Water thins an overly thick soup or heavily reduced sauce without imparting a flavor of its own as cooking with chicken broth does. Use water as an alternative to chicken broth for lightening the taste and texture of a thick, rich dish.

Wine

  • Chefs have cooked with wine since ancient Rome was a republic. Wine is the basis of such dishes as coq au vin and veal Marsala, but you can use it as a substitute for chicken broth as well if you remain aware of its potentially dominating taste. Wine's complex flavor can overpower a subtler dish, so mix wine and water or vegetable broth to dial down the wine's flavor. If you decide to use wine as an alternative to chicken broth, choose a wine good enough to drink; products labeled as cooking wines do not enhance food as much as a palatable wine will. Although most of the alcohol contained in wine burns off during cooking, the finished dish will still contain traces of alcohol; try a nonalcoholic alternative if you plan to serve the dish to people who are sensitive to alcohol.

References

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