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I imagine I could use turkey stock instead of water when cooking a box of couscous, but that boiling pasta in stock wouldn't work so well. In what kinds of preparations could I use stock instead of water? Could I use a 1-1 substitution? (I've got a ton of turkey stock in the freezer, and I'm looking for ways to use it.)

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Any recipe where the water is part of a sauce or is expected to be absorbed (including rice, couscous, and yes, pasta too), you can use stock instead to increase the deliciousness. If you have an opportunity to add flavour, why waste it?

Of course, there are some caveats to consider when making the substitution:

  • Stock is going to contain a certain amount of gelatin (how much depends on how the stock is made). This is often a good thing, leading to a richer mouth-feel, but if the thickening effect would be detrimental to your recipe, then don't use stock.

  • Stock can clash with other flavours, although less often than you'd expect, since it's effectively a mega-dose of umami. In particular I'd probably avoid using it in recipes that are either very sour (sour meat is the taste of rancidity and highly displeasing) or very sweet (since the sugar will overwhelm the flavour of the stock). So don't use it in your candies or in your pickling solutions, but any dish based primarily on meats, vegetables, and grains, is definitely fair game.

  • Because it's a meat product, it has a limited life span. I wouldn't recommend substituting it for water in anything that's going to sit in the fridge for several days and/or be re-frozen, due to food safety concerns.

  • Oh, and I probably wouldn't use it in baking. The effects of using homemade stock when the primarily role of the liquid is to develop gluten would be unpredictable, to say the least. And somehow the thought of turkey-flavoured cake just doesn't sound very appealing to me.

As for the right ratio - that depends entirely on what went into the stock, how long it was simmered for and whether or not the stock itself was reduced prior to storing/freezing. You're definitely going to want the same total amount of liquid, but if the stock is highly gelatinous then you might want to dilute it, and conversely, if the stock is very weak then you might want to reduce it. There really is no golden ratio, but I'd probably stick with 1:1 for a "typical" stock.

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We're going to have to coordinate on our answers. We're splitting the upvotes too much by posting the same thing all the time! –  bikeboy389 Jan 17 '11 at 18:58
    
There are a few cases where you use stock in baking (pan drippings in yorkshire pudding, for example), but it's certainly not common! –  Bruce Alderson Jan 18 '11 at 0:00
    
@Bruce: In this case by "baking" I mean "flour and water", as opposed to "anything that goes in an oven." You could certainly use stock in casseroles and marinades and glazes and so on. –  Aaronut Jan 18 '11 at 0:46
    
Yorkshires are flour + water (and can use stock or drippings), much like a cream puff. There are a few muffin recipes I make that are savoury and have 50:50 stock/water (and I'm sure I've seen it in crepes too, which are a similar problem). It's just not as common. –  Bruce Alderson Jan 18 '11 at 0:47
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@bruce - maple cookies (made with either high quality maple syrup or maple sugar) with real bacon crumbles mixed in and small piece of salty, thick-sliced bacon on top are delicious! –  stephennmcdonald Jan 30 '11 at 2:45
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Well, first off you've probably noticed that turkey stock really takes over in anything where you use it. It's not as flavor-neutral as chicken or beef stock. They add richness, but not necessarily a heavy chicken or beef flavor. Turkey stock, on the other hand, makes things taste strongly of turkey.

Apart from that I think you can use stock most places you'd use water or broth. Because a proper stock is usually a good deal richer with gelatin you'd probably want to thin it with water in many applications. For example, you'd probably get bad results using straight stock to boil pasta because the stock may be harder to absorb. But thinning it with a bunch of water would still get some extra flavor into the pasta, and reduce the possible cooking difficulties.

I'd consider stock to be just another flavorful liquid (thanks Alton Brown), to be usable in exchange for others like wine, etc. You need to be conscious of the gelatin aspect and mindful that some substitutions will be more successful than others, flavor-wise, but it's always worth considering if stock might be a good substitute for any other flavorful liquid.

We make rice with stock all the time (though if it's a really rich stock we cut it with as much as 50% water), and it's great for poaching chicken for a chicken salad.

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