What is Demi Glace?
I am a huge fan of demi-glace for preparing classic sauces like mushroom or peppercorn sauce but I have to warn you, it is a huge process to make classic demi glace at home. It is not for the faint of heart but well worth the effort – at least once.
Demi-glace is a richly concentrated brown stock that is carefully reduced until it forms a deep meaty flavored glaze. You start by roasting a lot of meat bones (veal & beef) to make a basic brown stock that takes hours and hours to simmer and reduce. And you have to make a lot of it because you need a bunch of it to prepare a classic Espagnole sauce but then some more to make the demi glace. Confusing right?
A classic demi glace is a combination of Espagnole sauce with brown stock that is slowly reduced by half. You must take your time reducing the demi glace to prevent burning which would ruin the sauce and you would have to start over.
Making demi glace at home, in culinary school or a high end restaurant is arduous and extremely time consuming but when done right, the backbone of most of the world’s greatest sauces. It is one of the first lessons taught at some culinary schools because it teaches students about ingredients, reductions, detail and patience. As a culinary student or home cook, you’re likely to spend many hours preparing this important ingredient.
How to Make Demi Glace at Home
Over time, there have been many variations for preparing demi-glace until Auguste Escoffier standardized it in his Le Guide Culinaire, but I think this recipe adapted from The Food Network is a good one for anyone preparing it at home. Most restaurant chefs make a big batch of demi glace because they use it in a lot of recipes and it takes a lot of work.
There is no real shortcut for classic demi glace, you have to roast a lot of bones, simmer the liquids for hours, reduce, reduce and reduce some more. I’m sure you are looking at this recipe that calls for starting with 1 gallon of brown stock and 1 gallon of Espagnole sauce to finish with a gallon of demi glace and thinking, No Way and I don’t blame you. This means you have to start with 2 gallons of brown stock, 1 for the Espagnole sauce and 1 for the demi glace.
You could try cutting the ingredients in half or even quarter them. This will reduce the overall amount of time it will take to prepare classic demi glace plus you won’t be filling your freezer with small containers of the stuff but it still takes a lot of work to do it right.
What If You Don’t Want To Prepare It From Scratch?
Lucky for us, we don’t have to make our own demi glace at home even if you don’t have a friend who is a professional chef and willing to part with some of this brown gold. You can find commercial products that are good, not as good as making it yourself, but really good.
I have been using a commercial demi glace product for years from a company called More Than Gourmet. Their Demi-Glace Gold is all natural and as close as I think you can get to homemade tasting. There are also some other products on the market that are much cheaper than Demi-Glace Gold using other than all natural products that have received good reviews from other sources.
I’m not making classic French sauces every day, so I don’t mind paying a little extra for the Demi-Glace Gold and the rest of More Than Gourmet’s product line including Glace de Poulet Gold. You may also be interested in my article, Making Sauces at Home that describes my 5 Step Method for Preparing Professional Quality Brown Sauces.
Demi Glace Gold does not have to be refrigerated until it is opened and then has a 6 month to 1 year shelf life. I can prepare about 16 sauces out of each pound unless I’m cooking for friends. 1 ounce Demi Glace Gold reconstitutes into about 5 ounces of demi-glace which is perfect for making a sauce for my wife and I and two daughters.