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Jul 7, 2008 09:01 PM

Beef Base/ Chicken Base in New Zealand???

While making a traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie (see ) calling for "Beef Base", a paste boullion of beef, I went into my local NZ grocer and searched for it. All I could find was powdered or solid beef bouillon which is not the same thing and is expressly discouraged for the recipe.

While thinking I'd imagined the paste while living in the states, I went to my fridge and found and old bottle of Chicken Base that I brought over some years ago... the product name was "Better Than Boullion", and as I remembered, was a thick paste that tasted like chicken. so I went to the grocer again and had six workers looking for it for me... they finally gave me Marmite. Needless to say, Marmite is not Beef Base and my Shepherd's pie came out tasting quite tangy and not too beefy.

Anyone have any idea where I could order real beef base in New Zealand? Surely it must exist!!

Thanks in advance for your ideas.

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  1. No idea, but shouldn't shepherd's pie be lamb or mutton? I know, I know, but it was a shepherd not a cowherd's pie.... :-)

    1. Firstly, Shepherd's pie is lamb (or mutton).

      Secondly I have no idea what beef base is.

      and finally, I'd suggest you look at for some alternate recipes...

      Sorry I am of no help

      16 Replies
      1. re: kmh

        The film clip has to be a spoof - no one could seriously cook (a sheperds pie) that badly.
        Maybe be it is ther US versioin of the BBC film program Posh Nosh -

        1. re: PhilD

          I am not sure if it's a spoof or not, but I agree, this is terrible.

          don't be a fibber - a "fibber" is a liar...
          how much thyme does she use?

          1. re: kmh

            She used a ton of thyme, ha ha... but that part tasted ok. I used a half beef half lamb mixture, just couldn't thicken up the gravy. I did buy some Maggi stock powder but don't know if I used enough. Did see Bovril at the shop, will get that and try it next time. Thanks everyone for your help!

            1. re: kmh

              I can't read that "Old English" style font but I assumed the word was "Jibber"... spent four years in Ireland in summers and never heard the word... who knows where she got it from...

            2. re: PhilD

              Thanks Phil, I will check out that link. Was so disappointed with the Marmite laden pie that I will make another one next week. Though I don't think that was a spoof, some Americans get pretty wacky on St. Paddy's Day, lol.

              1. re: ideabaker

                whacky? sounded like she'd been smoking it.

                here are some other recipes to compare, from everyday ingredients that you'll have no trouble finding in this part of the world (sans bouncy green headband as well):

                1. re: kmh

                  khm, thanks so much for these great alternate recipes... you made me laugh so loud with your "smoking it" comment, I'm afraid I've frightened the neighbors :-). I take it that "beef broth" is just the liquid broth (Campbell's) sold in the little cartons on the shelf... won't be as thick as beef base, but maybe I could add cornflour to thicken it? I especially like the first recipe, the classic Shepherds pie, but I love the idea of serving them in individual ramekins or oven safe teacups like the third recipe shows... you are wonderful, again, thank you!

                  1. re: ideabaker

                    Why add anything?

                    Simply fry the onion, then the meat. If you don't overload the pan (as the person does in the video) the meat will fry and caramalise a little and develop its own natural flavour (unlike the video where it relleases its juices and actually boils). I then add some tomato paste, and other flavours like worchesteshire sauce. If you want to add carrots/peas then par-boil them first and you won't need to add the stock/base/broth to cook them. This keeps the mixture quite dry and so you don't need to thicken it with flour/cornflour.

                    A couple of other tips. Don't mash potato in a mixer/food processor as yoiu are in danger of breaking the cells and releasing the starch, this is really easy to do and you end up with glue rather than lightly mashed potato - use a potatoe ricer - cheap and easy to use. Also grate the cheese on the top - grating it finely allows it to melt in the oven and crisp up so you won't need the blow torch.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Baker, whilst i sent you those links, i'm with PhilD.

                      I simply brown lamb mince with diced onion. then add finely diced (whatever veg I have - fennel & celery, zucchini - shepherds pie is poor man's food and it's about using what you have). I then add salt, pepper, a bay leaf, rosemary (fresh if i wander past the neighbour's hedge), worcester sauce and either a squirt of tomato sauce or some liquid strained from tinned tomatoes. I then add a couple of cups of water and let it simmer down until reduced to a thick consistency. I never need a roux, thickener or cornflour.

                      Mash - i recently learned mash has to be done warm and if you don't have a ricer use a fork (my english husband taught me this and I think it's the only cooking tip I've had from him).

                      I don't put cheese on shepherd's pie (only cottage pie).

                      This beef base stuff sounds dodgey. If you've ever got gravy or a casserole that isn't firing on all cylinders, a teaspoon of vegemite or a splash of soy can help. and yes the "broth" you mention is probably the campbell's stock.

                      The whole concept of shepherd's pie is peasant food, traditionally left with the leftover lamb roast and whatever else is available...

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Phil and kmh, thank you for your additional tips... am adding tomato paste to my shopping list for this afternoon. I noticed that the mince here in NZ barely releases any juices, but in America it does release quite a lot like in the video... must be something to do with the fat content. As for the mash, I just boiled them with the skin on then mashed them with the old fashioned potato masher, a bit of butter and milk. Didn't even attempt the piping like she did in the video. And I did grate the cheese for more even coverage. More cold weather due over the next week so will try again and report back to you. I did notice that neither of you mentioned adding any beef bouillon, just the stock... so I should skip the bouillon and just use stock? Or use both? And what do you think of adding beer to the recipe? Again, thanks!

                        1. re: ideabaker

                          I use neither boullion nor stock - it's simply isn't required.

                          juices is not the same as fat content - usually more a product of water content greatly affected by freezing etc.

                          i would peel potatoes prior to mashing, beer is more a carbonade thing than a shepherds pie thing

                          and quite frankly, i think you should forget about the video.

                          1. re: ideabaker

                            "I noticed that the mince here in NZ barely releases any juices, but in America it does release quite a lot like in the video."

                            I think here in the States, they inject liquid into meat to increase the weight....

                            1. re: ideabaker

                              My guess is that stock/beer/bouillion was usually added if you made a sheperds pie the traditional way with leftover roast lamb from a previous days dinner. Adding some stock to heat through the cold meat would ensure it didn't dry out when it was cooked for the second time.

                              Beer in recipes is usually used as both a tenderiser and to add flavour, thus it is best used in long slow braises rather than something is quick like sheperds pie.

                        2. re: kmh

                          Everyone-- thank you for your advice on Shepherd's Pie... I ended up making recipe #1 from kmh... doubling the flour and broth as some of the other people who'd tried the recipe had done... used Phil's advice on the potato mashing and decided to use broth based on Kim's thoughts on the amount of moisture in the meat (U.S. vs. 42 Below) ...also had a play with the ratio of spices, pastes and sauces, and it came out beautifully! Thick, rich, fragrant and tasty broth (with no pre-packaged beef base or bouillion) with fine chunky veges, topped with rustic potato mash... heaven! (And so much better than the Shamrock headband recipe.) Thank you all so much for your help! You've warmed up another rainy cold winter's day. p.s. Skipped the beer in the recipe, though enjoyed one on the side. Maybe Peasantry isn't so bad...

                      2. re: PhilD

                        i can't wait to show my husband these!.

                    2. Shepherd's Pie, Cottage Pie, either way, lamb base does not exist, so you would you beef or chicken in either pie...

                      Having said that, look into commercial kitchen suppliers, Maggi or Knorr makes a good base, but usually it's only sold commercially in large 1 kilo tubs...

                      If you can't find it, try Bovril for a beef base, it's pasty like marmite, but it;s beef extract, in the supermarket... in th UK they have a chicken Bovril, but haven't seen it in Australia, no idea about NZ, sorry...