It is too bad I already did a roundup of the seasonings I keep by my stove at all times, because Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate (tomato stock with chicken flavour) deserves to be on that list (with a bullet).
I had been trying to get my hands on this tomato and chicken powder for some time, but had previously only been able to find it at the restaurant supply store in giant multi-pound tubs. Yesterday I found it in a reasonably-sized jar at Safeway, and I threw it in my cart with an unreasonable amount of enthusiasm. Part of Knorr’s “Mexican and Latin” line of products, this stuff makes banging Mexican rice, sopa de fideo, and chicken tortilla soup, but you can sprinkle it on and around any savoury dish for enhanced flavour and extra, glorious umami.
Knorr describes Caldo de Tomate as “delicious mix of tomato and chicken flavours enhanced with onions, parsley and spices,” but “MSG with tomato powder and dehydrated chicken fat” is more accurate and — to me — more desirable. Like any bouillon or seasoning blend with MSG, this stuff is salty and savoury, but the tomato powder is the hero of the piece. It brings a sweet, kind of acidic, vegetal umami; and then the chicken fat comes and hits you with a touch of rich meatiness. It is a perfect product. I will hear no slander of it. (I read some comments on the internet that said it was “too salty.” My guess is that those comments were written by my fellow white people, but I can’t be sure — such is the anonymous nature of this web we surf.)
Caldo de Tomate is obviously meant for soups and stews. It is, after all, technically a stock, and that is what stocks are designed for.
It also makes bangin’ rice, but that shouldn’t surprise you either. What may surprise you, however, is that 1/2 a teaspoon (or more) can help you make the most bangin’ Bloody Mary you’ve ever ingested. If you’ve ever had a Caesar, you know that the extra umami brought by the clam juice in Clamato is a very valuable thing. The dehydrated chicken fat does something very similar, turning a basic Bloody into a much more exciting “Clucktato.” (In addition to mixing Caldo de Tomate into the beverage, make sure to put a little around the rim.)
It also makes a bangin’ roast chicken. I mixed a few teaspoons into a quarter cup of mayo, then slathered a whole bird in the mixture before roasting. The skin not only took on a fantastic brackish but golden hue, it tasted excessively chicken-y, which is what you want chicken skin to taste like. Did I also sprinkle some on the roasted potatoes? Yes, and it was a good call. Unlike plain MSG, this tomato-y blend provides a flavour journey for your mouth — it’s salty, then meaty, then sweet and tangy, all in a matter of moments.
Put it on potato chips, put in in potato chip dip, put it on popcorn, put it on grilled corn, and put it in and/or on stews, soups, rice, chilli, beans, and macaroni and cheese (trust me). If it is savoury, if it will benefit from a little Caldo de Tomate.