Q: What is the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock? Can you use either?
--Tina Feigenberg, Chicago
A: There's no real difference. The "Deluxe Food Lover's Companion" defines broth as "a liquid resulting from cooking vegetables, meat or fish in water. The term is sometimes used synonymously with bouillon." The book defines stock, in part, as "the strained liquid that is the result of cooking vegetables, meat or fish and other seasoning ingredients in water."
Writers often use the word "stock" for what's made from scratch and "broth" for what bought at the market in cans or boxes. You can use the two interchangeably in most recipes, although you want to watch the salt in canned or boxed broths. Buy low-sodium brands.
Canned and boxed broths are getting better all the time. You still might want to follow Julia Child's example by jazzing it up with a little white wine or vermouth, tomato paste for a beef broth, fresh herbs and or garlic. Let these flavorings simmer in the broth for 20 minutes over low heat; strain.
I used to think homemade stock was a pain until I talked it over with Jacques Pepin. The Connecticut-based chef, author and television personality tosses his bones into a container in his freezer. When the box is full, he plans an afternoon and makes a big batch of stock. Some of that stock can go into soups right away, some of it can be frozen in ice cube trays so that you can "pop" some instant flavoring into dishes when you need it.
For chicken stock, I put the bones in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add roughly chopped carrots, onions and celery, a bay leaf, sprigs of fresh herbs. Bring the liquid to a simmer, skim off any fat or scum that rises to the top, and let the stock cook for a couple of hours of so. Strain; taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
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