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Why do non-chicken, even beef, recipes call for chicken broth?

Why not beef or some other flavor?

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  1. A) It's a more neutral tasting broth than beef, ham, or seafood.

    b) Everyone has it on hand nearly all the time.

    1. Either because the recipe calls for a slightly cleaner, lighter, more neutral flavor, or just because it's generally easier and cheaper to get your hands on or make good quality chicken broth than beef.

      1. I suppose it makes some sense but it just seems strange not to use beef broth to enhance a beef dish; even a vegetable broth would work. Chicken seems so out of place.

        1. Probably because most canned beef broth products taste like melted aluminum. When a recipe calls for "beef broth" my solution is to use a good quality low-sodium chicken broth and add a smidgen of Better Than Bouillon Beef. The Better Than Bouillon products are far superior to most commercial broth and bouillon brands but I still can't take their beef flavor all on its own.

          If I were a true Chowhound I would, of course, make my own beef stock. Alas, I fall short here.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mandycat

            Mandycat, you right on point. America's Test Kitchen often uses chicken broth in beef dishes (i.e. pot roast) because of the "metallic" taste of canned beef broth. In fact, America's Test Kitchen found that there is liitle or no beef products (depending on the brand) in canned beef broth.

          2. Most of the recipes I have seen call for chicken stock. The reason they call for chicken stock, even in a beef dish, is it is more likely you will have chicken stock. They want the gelatinous mouth feel of stock. Beef stock would work but chicken is easier. Chicken stock is mild flavored enough that you can cover it up with beef flavor but there isn't much substitute for the mouth feel.

            1. Because chicken stock or broth, unlike its beef, fish, pork, or other fowl counterparts, is really rather neutral in flavor but still full of umami. In other words, it provides flavor without being chicken-y.

              Could you imagine if you a beef stew called for ... fish stock?

              1. I imagine that the recipes you are referring to are not calling for homemade stock and that has been addressed above. convenience and quality Though I must say I find store bought broths to lack in gelatin altogether.
                If you are using homemade stocks it is more typical to use a stock that matches the protein.
                In professional kitchens we often start with veal stock, light or dark chicken stock as a base and enrich them with more exotic meat bones ie Pheasant, Venison, Lamb etc...

                4 Replies
                1. re: chefj

                  For beef dishes I use the More Than Gourmet veal demi-glace (Amazon link below). It def gives a flavor bump that is not had from a chicken stock. For store-bought stocks, the More than Gourmet brand is really very good.

                  1. re: EM23

                    Holy cow (pardon the pun) that stuff is expensive!

                    1. re: chefj

                      That's for a pack of six - no bull:-)

                      1. re: EM23

                        Yeah I just did a quick calculation for how much it costs me per ounce to produce:
                        without counting fuel to simmer, very conservatively .25 cents per ounce! They are charging $2+++ per ounce. Hell, stop by the restaurant and I'll sell you some at half that price!

                2. I never use canned beef broth for anything. If I don't have home made beef broth I will use chicken broth, wine, juice or flavored water. Anything tastes better than beef broth from a can.

                  1. As EM23 suggests, demi-glace is a Good Thing; though it is expensive (I think I paid about $17 each for my jars of chicken and beef) it also goes a long way in a home kitchen. What I've discovered is that if you want beef broth, far better than just thinning out demi-glace with water, use good canned chicken broth instead (I've always been partial to Swanson's). A rounded teaspoon of beef demi-glace in a cup of chicken broth gives a good beefy roundness without that metallic clang.