The Quick And Easy Addition To Elevate Boxed Stock

It might seem a bit strange to add extra things to a pre-made convenience ingredient like boxed stock. After all, the whole point of purchasing stock is that it's already made for you and saved you potentially hours of simmering. If you cook frequently, stock is probably something you use every week, and you already know it's not just for soups but can deglaze pans, form the flavor base for sauces, and add a little extra something extra to rice or potatoes.

The reason is that most cooks understand that boxed stock isn't that great in the flavor department. Even the best brands pale in comparison to what you get from homemade stock. It's not that it's all bad, just that you can't help but feel you're leaving something on the table when you use pre-made stock. Almost every recipe and cooking video you come across will implore you to use homemade if you want your recipe to turn out, and, of course, they're right. Yet the ease of boxed stock is too much to resist. Most days just aren't made for homemade stock, and most people don't plan far enough ahead to always have a container in the freezer. So how can you elevate that boxed stock in a way that bridges that gap at least a little bit, but keeps it easy and convenient?

Garlic is the quick ingredient that will add flavor to boxed stock

You have no shortage of options when it comes to upgrading boxed broth or stock, but one stands out for just how easy it is: garlic. Other additions like mirepoix are going to take time, and some, like tomato paste or mushrooms, will alter the taste quite a bit, but garlic is quick and adds a lot of flavor without overpowering the stock. You don't even need to mince it, you can just cleave a head of garlic in half and drop it in your boxed stock to simmer, skin and all. Then you can just strain it out when you're done and enjoy all that extra garlicky flavor in your boosted stock.

What makes garlic great for upgrading stock, and just in general, is that like salt or onions, it enhances other flavors, in addition to adding its own. The pungent sting of garlic comes from chemical compounds found in alliums that wake up your senses. Just think of the feeling in your nose after taking a whiff of freshly chopped garlic, and you'll understand what it's doing to your taste buds too. This means garlic makes you more receptive to all the flavors already in your food, which is especially helpful with potentially dull boxed stock. 

So next time your stock needs a wake up call just grab a head of garlic and know everything is going to turn out all right.