Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 1, 2005 11:51 AM

Did I make demi glace?

  • b

Oh Fellow Chowhounds your sage advice I do seek,
I had a hankering for a rich sauce that I ate with sweetbreads at a snooty french resturant. I thought that I would be able to imitate the rich sauce by basically roasting beef marrow bones, (with a shmear of tomato paste) some meat, veggies, fresh thyme, chicken, putting it in a big stock pot with cold water (no salt) and simmering it for about 10 hours, I let it cool overnight and then strained it and put it in the fridge for a few hours, I skimmed the hardend fat, strained it again and brought it to a boil, then I let it reduce a lot, a fifth of its volume I put it into a container in the fridge, and now its like a jello. Do I have demi glace? or just a reduced stock.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A demi-glace is a brown beef stock that has been thickened with roux and reduced to a light syrupy consistency. You have something in between a sort-of brown beef stock (some of your ingredients, notably the thyme, chicken, and tomato paste, are not, strictly speaking, correct in a brown beef stock, and you also don't list the actual weights of the ingredients and how much water you used) and glace de viande, which would be a brown beef stock of proper strength reduced to about 10% of its original volume.

    3 Replies
    1. re: FlyFish

      "(some of your ingredients, notably the thyme, chicken, and tomato paste, are not, strictly speaking, correct in a brown beef stock, and you also don't list the actual weights of the ingredients and how much water you used)"

      Jaques Pepin's brown sauce in La Techique has carrots, tomatoes, leek, celery, thyme, bay leaves, black peppercorns, in addition to a mixture of roasted bones (veal, chicken, beef)

      As well, it is not thickened with roux to make demi glace. Rather, demi glace is brown sauce reduced by half. To make glace de viande, you further reduce demi glace until it has the thickness a caramel.

      1. re: knuckles

        I obtained my information from James Peterson's book Sauces, which is generally considered to be authoritative for this sort of information. He, in turn, cites Escoffier as the source for his information. Escoffier (according to Peterson) invented demi-glace as a simpler substitute for the original coulis, the preparation of which is so expensive and complicated as to now be beyond the means of even high-end restaurants.

        Pepin's recipe for brown stock, and his subsequent discussion of demi-glace and glace de viande, is actually in La Methode (not La Technique, although I recognize that both books have more recently been republished as a single volume). He's writing as a cook and not a researcher, hence he starts with "We make our brown stock . . ." Much as I love Pepin, I would opt for Peterson as a more definitive source for what the classic sauces actually were originally, as opposed to how they may be being interpreted currently.

        1. re: FlyFish
          Das Ubergeek

          Nevertheless, Escoffier's recipe for demi-glace involves brown stock added to sauce espagnole -- which contains tomato purée (properly purée de concasse de tomates, which removes the seeds, the skin and the goop from the tomatoes).

          That said, the original "sauces mères" have been stretched over the last 150 or 200 years, and arguing about Escoffier vs. Pépin vs. Peterson smacks to me of culinary semantics.

          That said, however, the OP certainly did not make demi-glace -- demi-glace is glazelike, not gelatinous, and it contains roux as part of the sauce espagnole, which it sounds like his sauce did not. If the OP put something into this gelatinous mass he would have aspic.

    2. You are confusing demi-glace with glace de viand. First glace de viand is a very thick reduction of meat stock reduced to a very thick syrup or glaze. For glace de viand there are two schools of preparation. In one you would make a simple drown sauce using a roux for a thickener and some of the glace de viand to add richness and sherry or madiera. In a simpler version you might reduce you stock to were it is thickened but not to a glaze, add the wine and maybe some mushrooms and serve.

      For more reading on it try The Food Lover's Companion, everyone should have a copy and in the old Gourmet Cookbook vol II

      1. b
        Becca Porter

        Am I the only one here who caught the "I let it cool overnight..." part. The way you phrased that lead me to believe you let it cool outside of the fridge.

        Beef stock is what they use sometimes to culture bacteria, because its a perfect medium for it.

        Even putting it in the refrigerator immediately can be dangerous if its to big a pot. They reccomend putting ziploc bags full of ice in the pot to quickly lower the temp. before putting in the fridge.

        I am very concerned, please correct me if I'm mistaken.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Becca Porter
          Das Ubergeek

          That's not to say that you have to throw it out; just bring it to a boil for a full minute before you use it in anything.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            I used to think so too. But, someone -- on this board, iirc -- pointed out that the bacteria themselves are not toxic, it is the chemicals they secrete that are harmful, and typically these toxins do not break down on boiling. So, yeah, throw it out, and let this be a lesson to us all. Stocks are very vulnerable to bacteria, and cooling them is to be taken seriously and done quickly.

        2. Short answer: Did you make demi glace? Yup.
          All the other posters, are absolutely correct about roux thickened sauces and classic techniques and stuff and jazz...

          But here's the quick answer from a guy who helped make 5 gallons of Demi-glace every day for 2 years at a white tablecloth catering firm.

          Your first stock of bones, veg and herbs sounds just right. I too wonder about you "allowed it to cool overnight" comment... Botulism is heat resistant- just re-boiling a stock wont remove the toxins produced by bacterias, just the microorganisms themselves.
          If, after straining out the bones and veg chunks, you properly cooled the stock, you would have noticed a slightly jello-like consistancy from the COLLAGEN (never mentiond in this thread) extracted from the bones. The more you reduce, the more water evaporates out and the more concentrated the collagen becomes- hence the Jello.

          If you had reduced your stock to Half volume (french word for half = demi) you would have had a more concentrated flavor and a slightly thicker consistancy.

          Because you went whole hog into the reduction process, your finished product has the consistancy of a roux thickened sauce but with 5x the concentration of stock flavors. What you have sacrificed in volume, you have made up for in potency.

          Straight reduction methods of thickening sauces are a little pricy for most restaurants, but we used it all the time, every day.

          This Glace (french for "Gel") you have made is the basic ingredient for any unctious, savory, delicious brown sauce you can think of. For a bordelaise, sweat shallots, mushrooms, and peppercorns, deglaze with red wine, put in 1Tblsp of your glace, heat to melt, then swirl in a tiny knob of butter.

          No, your ultra concentrated beef stock jello is not a true demi-glace, but it is a modern, cheap, low-tech version with a great deal of flavor.

          Just becareful of your heating, cooling, and storage.