A question about: Rigatoni with White Bolognese -- Do any of you use bouillon cubes or similar products, and if so, what brand? Why? Thanks!

This recipe is on my "make-this-week" list. Ordinarily I'd use homemade beef stock from my freezer. But now that I see that a respected cook I know actually uses a commercial bouillon product, I'm considering buying some, for the first time in my life . . . . Thanks, PicklePals! ;o)

Recipe question for: Rigatoni with White Bolognese


Victoria C. July 9, 2022
I use Better than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base
Slow C. April 4, 2011
Just a thought--I've used my own chicken stock as a base for many a beef dish (especially if I am actually cooking the meat and bones so that it is almost making its own stock). Every now and again I buy something in a jar or a box with great hopes, but each time I am disappointed. Granted, chicken stock is not beef stock, but if its nice and thick and gelatinous it adds a great amount of depth, texture, nutrition and flavor.
Anitalectric April 4, 2011
I use Seitenbacher vegetable seasoning for everything. It comes in loose, powdered form so that you can use as much or as little as you want. More versatile and can be added even at the last minute. Dissolves in anything...water, cream, even salad dressing.

It is German but they have it at Whole Foods, health food stores, Fairway (NYC) and I have seen it other places, too. Much less additives than boullion and no animal or soy ingredients.
innoabrd April 4, 2011
I've yet to find a cube that didn't taste of, well, just salt. Every now and again, I find one I think looks like it might be OK, but...

Actually, on my visits to the US, I've yet to find a packaged stock I'm happy with. Why does everything in the US, even the fancy organics at Wholefoods, have so much salt?! Have a local brand here that's pretty good, so I just stock boxes and boxes of it. Used to make all my own stock, but just don't always have the time or inclination. however, if all I could find was that nasty high-sodium stuff, I guess I'd go back to filling my freezer...
RobertaJ April 4, 2011
On the West Coast, Bristol Farms has demi-glace in their freezer section, and also in their shelf-stable items. Little cups on the shelves, I'd guess about 1/4C each. Certainly not more than that. Pricey, but when I used it, I liked it....I'd assume Whole Paychecks has it as well.

That said, Better Than Bouillon is THE BOMB. It's in the packaged soup aisle of any grocery, along with those nasty bouillon cubes. Shelf stable until its opened, then you need to put it in the fridge. It will last for quite a while. I always, Always, ALWAYS have a jar of both the chicken and beef flavors in the fridge, and I couldn't cook without it. At least not so well. Great when you only need a cup or so of broth, much better than cracking open a can or a box. And you can adjust the amount of the paste you use to intensify the flavor if you want. It's a great product.
latoscana April 3, 2011
Another vote for Better than Bullion.
Greenstuff April 3, 2011
Foodpickle thinks I liked my last answer about prepared demiglaces so much that it moved it way up in the line. Not to worry, I have more to add! (It's local though and a teensy bit off topic.)

AJ, you and others that live in the East San Francisco Bay Area have a couple advantages, even if you're finding it difficult to source veal bones. The Pasta Shop in Rockridge routinely has frozen veal demiglace. It's pricy but very good. Another alternative is Star Meats, the current butcher shop inside Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue, is also making regular batches of veal stock. They call what they sell "double strength," so it's good for adding into other dishes.

Greenstuff April 3, 2011
Those prepared demiglaces save our lives when we're cooking with my brother at his house. He lives in a slight food desert, but there is a store that carries a line of demiglaces--chicken, beef, veal, fish, and maybe a few others if we're lucky. We have been able to cook remarkable fish soups, daubes, other stews, all sort of things. There are several brands. One common one is called Demi Glace Gold. Another one has tall chefs' hats sitting on its lids, making them look taller than they really are. Sometimes you find them on top of the counter at the butcher's section. Other times, they're in almost random locations throughout the grocery store and you have to ask. I don't need them much in my food mecca, but elsewhere--they're absolutely worth the salt. Another advantage--they last practically forever. There's no need to use them up quickly.
boulangere April 3, 2011
You're a hoot, SKK! We're all in this together!
SKK April 3, 2011
My friends the rebels! Loving this.
boulangere April 3, 2011
So, amysarah, I'm guessing that Outer Slebovia is a hop-skip-jump from that parallel universe. Am I getting close?
amysarah April 3, 2011
boulangere - Outer Slebovia is where I fill my house with flowers from my own cutting garden and always serve a different precisely paired wine with every course. (Glad you enjoyed ;-)

One note about prepared demi-glace - it is a great product, but be careful because it can be very salty. D'Artagnan makes a good one.

boulangere April 3, 2011
High end kitchen stores usually stock good prepared demi-glaces. Pierino is right - they really are a good product. Not cheap, but then making your own isn't without its commitment of time, ingredients, and energy. Did you have any idea what a conversation you were going to spark?!
AntoniaJames April 3, 2011
I didn't even know you could buy prepared demi-glace. Where do you get it? How is it packaged? What is its shelf life? I am finding it so difficult to source good veal bones these days (actually it's been years, sadly) that I actually might buy a prepared demi-glace, assuming that it tastes good. Fascinating! ;o)
boulangere April 3, 2011
I love it amysarah! Let me know when you find that parallel universe, would you? And where exactly is Outer Sebovia - seems that's a cuisine I've missed. I laughed out loud all through your response! Beautiful!
amysarah April 3, 2011
Sorry, no boullon cube rec's, but just to weigh in (i.e., rant) on the cooking police: puh-leeze. The longer I've cooked, the less patience I have - either re: shortcuts or being 100% faithful to the original dish, as it was made in Provence/Tuscany/Outer Slebovia since time began.

If I lived in a parallel universe with unlimited time/resources, I might be more doctrinaire...but here on earth, I pick my battles and shortcuts - cooking and otherwise. Store bought fresh pasta sheets, puff pastry, demi-glace, etc....no apologies. Gee, can you tell this is one of my pet peeves?
healthierkitchen April 3, 2011
How do cubes or Better than Bouillion compare with beef stock in the boxes?
pierino April 3, 2011
Even Marcela Hazan admits to using bouillon cubes (for risotto) so get over it.

From time to time I also use prepared demi-glace. And dammit, I forgot a jar I left in a friend's refrigerator a week ago. And that stuff is expensive...and it's now 150 miles away from me.
Gale April 3, 2011
I am with SKK on the home made bouillon from 101cookbooks.com veg bouillon. It is really worth the effort to make and lasts forever in the freezer. Better than Bouillon fish base is a great stand by for those who don't have ready access to fish frames (I live on the Maine coast and have to special order them). The Better than Bouillon products are available in most grocery stores and are really not a bad substitute for homemade.
SKK April 3, 2011
One more thing that may be of use - my absolute favorite home made vegetable bouillon is from http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/homemade-bouillon-recipe.html I make 1/2 recipe at a time and always have in the freezer. I have substituted it for beef bouillon and for chicken bouillon because it is so good.
SKK April 3, 2011
Better than Bouillon is also my choice when using commercial. Regarding sodium, 1 tsp has 710 mg. For each cup of stock calls for 1 tsp in 8 oz boiling water, for 1 quart of stock 1 1/2 tablespoons. It is a paste, not a powder and I agree with forester_lady is superior to cubes.
duclosbe1 April 3, 2011
I have Better Than Bouillon reduced sodium beef base in my refrigerator...it's a paste that we use when we're in a pinch, and it's not that bad. Although it's not nearly as good as homemade beef stock, it's definitely better than the cubes!

Voted the Best Reply!

boulangere April 3, 2011
You know, I was at first surprised, but finally kind of relieved to see Amanda's reference to bouillon cubes in her lovely recipe. It reminded me of a foodpickle question from a few weeks back about salted vs. unsalted butter for baking. I responded that I find that I'm less constipated by hard and fast rules in every single last method of doing anything and everything any more. Is unsalted butter better for baking? Sure, but if all one has on hand is the other, well should she not have made her cookies for fear of breaking a golden rule? Should she fear a knock on the door from the butter police? No, for heaven's sake! And I read Amanda's recipe as doing the same thing: giving us permission to be imperfect. Would home-made beef stock be better? Probably. But if it's dinner time, and the stock is still in the freezer, well, are you going to fear abduction by the stock police? I would like to think that Amanda was telling us to go ahead and use what you have on hand and enjoy a lovely meal without worrying about a rule for every single step. Sheesh! Didn't mean to get so cranky, but I hope you get my drift.
boulangere April 3, 2011
I don't, AJ, but yesterday I was at Costco and they were sampling a product with the name Better Than Bouillon. I have to admit it wasn't bad - certainly better than the cubes which I find have a metallic and very salty taste. It's a powder that you reconstitute in hot water.
ImmaEatThat April 3, 2011
You see a respected cook using commercial bouillon? Something smells...fishy.

I can understand the cost and time saving arguments, but nothing beats homemade beef stock. Commercial bouillon is heavily laden with salts, and does not compare to the clarity from your beef stock.
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