Halfway through writing this post, Fat Hubby reminded me that I’d promised to spend the next Pantry Principle day talking about whole wheat berries vs flour. I could lie and say the baby made me forget, or that I’d already finished this post when he reminded me, but the truth is that I just don’t have the energy to get into the details you deserve about wheat today. I do have enough energy, though, to gush about a new favorite of mine (and also an unpaid plug – though if anybody from Knorr would like to pay me, simply email me for payment details ::very polite smile::).
Most of you may already know this, but a sizeable portion of my pantry is full of stock. Specifically, the quart-sized boxes, and most of them are chicken because Costco doesn’t sell beef stock by the case (meanies).
I’ve put up with stock sans boeuf because in a regular grocery store, broth/stock is easily $4/box, whereas at Costco, you can get a case for ~$2/box. Everybody with me so far?
Now, I get that there is a certain amount of overhead with stock, I really do – not only does a producer have to cook the stuff and package it to be shelf stable for months on end, but it’s mostly water, which weighs a ton and dramatically increases a manufacturer’s shipping costs. So, I’d more or less resigned myself to the fact that 1) stock is kinda expensive and 2) a big portion of my pantry was gonna hafta be reserved just for stock. ::le sigh::
Then, about 6 months ago, I was in the stock aisle (for something else) and I noticed a curiously teeny little package sitting between my favorite stocks.
They come in both chicken and beef flavors; maybe veggie too, but I’ve never seen them. They taste phenomenally good (veggie-ful and not salty like so many broths/stocks) and they aren’t very big at all. If I had to guess, one tub of stock concentrate is maybe ¼ cup (probably less), when properly prepared makes a full quart of stock, and a 4-pack costs only $2.99. Yes, that’s right. Now stock, the expensive, space-sucking diva of my pantry, has been reduced to little bricks smaller than a pound of butter and only $0.75 per quart.
One of the things I like best about this stock concentrate is that the resulting stock has the body and mouth-feel of real, homemade stock. All the naturally occurring gelatin that made the concentrate so Jell-O-y melts like a dream into that viscous, smooth, silky heft that is so often lacking in canned/boxed ‘stock’. Technically, stock is made from bones while broth is made from meat-but-not-necessarily-bones, but if you’ve ever made a batch of stock at home you know that broth is flavored water but that stock has some serious culinary gravitas.
Also, for those of you who’ve read my cookbook Fat Girl Food, you’ll know that I love/rely on store-bought stock a lot, though I often “fortify” it (I simmer some veggies in it for a while to make it taste more like homemade, then throw those veggies out and proceed from there). I haven’t made a batch of ‘Chicken Corn Chowder, The Right Way’ with this new wonder-stock yet, but when I do, I probably won’t fortify it ::cues dramatic music::.
Now only one question remains: what to do with all that new-found shelf space?