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.
Classic Demi Glace Recipe
For the Brown Stock
For the Espagnole Sauce
For the Demi Glace
- 1 gallon Espagnole sauce hot
- 1 gallon brown stock hot
- 1 bouquet garni
To Make the Brown Stock
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the bones in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour. Remove the bones from the oven and brush with the tomato paste.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the onions, carrots, and celery together. Lay the vegetables over the bones and return to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat.
- Place the roasting pan on the stove and deglaze the pan with the red wine, using a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned particles. Put everything into a large stockpot. Add the bouquet garni and season with salt.
- Add the water. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the stock for 4 hours, skimming regularly. Remove from the heat and strain through a China cap or tightly meshed strainer.
Yield: about 2 gallons
To Make the Espagnole Sauce
- In a stock pot, whisk the hot stock into the roux.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the bacon fat. Add the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Stir the tomato puree into the vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato/vegetable mixture to the stock/roux mixture.
- Add the bouquet garni and continue to simmer, skimming as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
- Simmer the sauce for about 45 minutes. Strain the sauce through a China cap or tightly meshed strainer.
Yield: 1 gallon
To Make the Demi Glace
- In a stock pot, combine the Espagnole sauce, brown stock and bouquet garni, together, over medium-high heat.
- Bring up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and a simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 1 1/2 hours. Skim the liquid occasionally, for impurities. Season with salt and pepper.
- Strain through a China Cap or tightly meshed strainer.
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.
Below is a selection of highly regarded commercial demi glace products that you can find and purchase at Amazon. They all differ in what they are with, how they are made, how they must be stored and how much they cost.
I suggest you check them all out and depending on you budget and dietary needs, you pick one, two or three and test them out to see which one works best for you.