So, what's the deal with OXO cubes? Are they okay to use? Because I love them! I know real chefs make their own broth, but it sounds like a terrible bother, quite frankly, especially for someone who doesn't have a lot of scraps lying around. And canned stuff is expensive. So, really, is it so terrible to use the cubes? – Sunny, Canada
For what it’s worth, my thought on the matter is this. It’s only terrible to use bouillon cubes if you think they make your food taste like crap. If dinner tastes fine, then there’s nothing wrong with using them.
Listen, we’re all busy. We have to draw the line somewhere. I draw the line at peeling chestnuts and blanching almonds. I’m not doing it. You may draw the line somewhere else. I always have something on the verge of rotting in my refrigerator and/or succumbing to frostbite in my freezer. For me, making broth (or stock, since I use bones) makes sense. Plus, in my line of work, I’m usually in the vicinity of my kitchen. This isn’t necessarily the case if you work in sanitation.
As far as flavor is concerned, I find homemade stock to be subtler, more aromatic, less salty, and more chickeny in a fresh chicken kind of way than broth from bouillon cubes or cans. Another thing is that many cubes contain oodles of salt and/or MSG which, granted, are quite tasty, but I like to be the one in charge of the salt and MSG shakers. I’ve never tried your particular brand, though. I will say that Swanson makes a low-sodium chicken broth in a box that, to me, tastes much better than the bouillon cubes I’ve used.
If you’re up for an experiment, the next time you roast a chicken or somebody else you know does, grab the carcass and stick it in your purse. Bag it up tight, date it, and throw it in the freezer. Forget about it for a couple of months. Then, on a rainy day when you’re bored, throw it in your largest pot (need I say without the bag?) and cover with water. While it’s heating up, clean out your crisper. Just use what you have. Maybe a handful each of carrots, celery, onions, herbs like parsley and thyme (dried herbs, like bay leaves, in small quantities are fine), a couple of garlic cloves. Don’t bother to peel them. Just chop them in half and throw them in. Maybe toss in a few peppercorns. And any leftover white wine you might have in the fridge (I know, what are the odds of that?).
Bring everything to a boil and then spoon off the frothy stuff at the top. Simmer for a couple of hours while you tend to your other important rainy day business like, I don’t know, eBay? Porn? What's your pleasure? Then strain it into a large bowl. Pour it into several medium-sized plastic containers, label, date, and freeze. The next time you make soup, sauces, or risotto, defrost a container and use it. If you don’t detect a noticeable difference in the flavor of your dishes, then don’t bother making homemade broth ever again. Nobody has to know. If nothing else, your kitchen smelled good while you were trapped inside, and you cleared out some space in the fridge.
However, if you do notice an overwhelming increase in deliciousness, well then I’ve ruined you forever.