I decided to try "brewed meat/bones products" available in the US, which I've never used so far, starting with
- Knorr and Maggi bouillon cubes,
- Kitchen Basics stock tetrabriks,
- Knorr homestyle stock capsules,
- and premium BetterThanBouillon bases.
My definition of "Stock" is meaty bones taste with a backdrop of mirepoix/bouquet - no more than -, which can be reduced for sauce yet slightly salted to reveal basic taste as you go.
Bouillon, IMHO, is based on stock, then enhanced to be ready to go soup base, only to be added with stuff like potatoes, cabbage, pasta and whatnot, but not to worry about spices and herbs and more mirepoix vegs, and to be perfectly clear: never to be reduced.
So here is what I'd say.
1) "Maggi fond de veau", which I bring back from France every once in a while, is, on a stellar scale, far superior to whatever I tested here in the US so far, powders, pastes, or liquids alike. It's 3 to 4 euros for 110g powder, which makes 2.2L = 2 1/3 Qts, available as discount store brands as well (e.g. dia/leader price). So, if you ever see it available anywhere, just get it. I heard agri-customs could stop you, I didn't know, maybe got lucky so far, yet you can buy it expensive on line, so idk still.
2) To me, all chicken US products were better chicken wise than the beef products beef wise. I might be spoiled with my FR fond de veau.
3) Two proportions/directions were wrong. BetterThanBouillon really needs half more minimum, therefore about 10g per cup, not 6g as specified on the cap (I used a scale). Knorr US capsule is quite similar to the FR alter-ego 28g/500ml, called "Marmite de Bouillon", only 33g/600ml=2.5 cups is the way to go, and not 3.5 cups as specified on the package.
4) Knorr and Maggi cubes are still too salty-spicy-herbsy, I should have tried the reduced sodium ones (light blue). Still the poor man's spicy socks juice, yet vermicelli and alphabet pasta are fun stuff for kids. I learned that the hard way early on in life as we, which includes siblings, were alternatively exposed to Maggi/Knorr vs. the real Pot-au-feu and Couscous broth, which have no FR nor International match whatsoever as far as bouillon goes. I wanted to try the Asian powder look-alike (found at the Asian store), but the containers were too big, and on the SthAM side of things, I'm assuming Goya's are copycats.
5) Kitchen Basics, the most expensive, McCormick, - I still can't believe "hard to swallow" they bought out FR Ducros -, well rated, seriouseats picks, so called "stock", ... tasted the worst. I dumped it into the Maggi/Knorr bouillon cubes mix, which actually improved it. Bad, and not so good together, fare better, fact to my taste buds, go figure.
6) Following up on 3), Knorr capsules are really good, not too salty, but not reduce-able, balanced, but strong on aromatics, therefore soup base ready, not as fond for sauce. BetterThanBouillon on the other hand needs to be salted for tasting like anything to begin with, therefore can be reduced, yet didn't taste as good as the capsules, but better as fond use because of less mirepoix and bouquet taste.
Conclusion: Stuff labeled "Stock" didn't taste anything like stock, and "Better Than Bouillon" is actually more stock like than bouillon, while all were rather and globally mediocre compared to the French stuff. Why is this "Maggi fond" not sold here, in the US, anyone knows?
In the meantime, I'll keep testing with other products, but expectations are low, ... very low.
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