- queue Aug 12, 2005 11:09 AM
i have a couple of weeks of free time coming up and, looking ahead to fall and winter (i know it seems impossible in this sweltering heat!) i am contemplating making a big batch of demi-glace. i've never done this before, but i plan to follow the recipe in the bourdain cookbook and hope for the best.
before i commit myself irrevocably:
1. do you use demi-glace in your home cooking? how often? what are your favorite uses for this product?
2. does homemade make a big difference? (with chicken stock, i find that it does) are there adequate commercial substitutes?
3. for storage, i was planning to freeze by the tablespoon in ice-cube trays, then put in plastic freezer bags. everything in my freezer seems to develop ice crystals eventually. will this ruin the flavor? how long will it last in the freezer, anyway?
basically, i'm wondering whether the time, effort, and expense of making this stuff is worth it?
I have made Kamman's demi, and I enjoyed having it around. Having it makes you use it.....that was 4 years ago. I'd say 6 months easy in the freezer. At the time, i got plastic tubs from a restaurant supply store, covered the top of the sauce (inside the container) with saran rap, then put the cover on. There was no headspace in which ice crystals could form.
The only reasonable substitute is Demi Glace Gold. I found it after making my own, and that has kept me from making it again. You can order it online or find it in an upper end market. It's a 20 part reduction of properly made demi glace. They have other products as well.
Now, I don't use it that often, because it costs enough that I don't just run out and buy it, but when I REALLY need it, it's there.
I'd say - try the prepared product, see how you like it and how much you think that YOU would use it, then make your own when it's cooler!
if you have the time and the interest then you'll probably want to make some demi glace just for the experience and so that you'll have something to judge the store bought by. there are some commercially made ones that are pretty good - I bought something from a meat wholesaler that was quite good - don't remember the name- it came in very thin packs that were gold/black foil wrapped....I would use it as a base. Melt it down and add some wine or infuse some rosemary or whatever to go with a specific use. Quite a time saver. Time is $$. I save all the pan juices whenever I roast anything - not the same but it's flavor all the same.
I noticed on the Demi Gold website that they have little portions of Demi - good for the home cook....but I'm remembering that the texture allows one to cut off a chunk pretty easily. And since I don't use it that often, there might be a longer shelf life if frozen in one chunk (not a thick block) - less surface area, etc... don't know if I'm overthinking this or not?
I start with a 4 gal stock pot Sat.AM and finish reducing Sun. PM. Get the 2 oz. Dixi-Cups in the plastic cup isle at the super market and fill the cup up 3/4's of the way.Place them in a med.pan and chill over night. Next day in to the freezer. Then top off with a little water to seal, then into the freezer again. A couple days later, dump them into a gal. freezer zip-lock, date it , and enjoy !
As a former Gourmet reader, I used to make brown stock/demi glace that was often called for in the old recipes. There is no question that it is the single best ingredient for making tasty sauces. However, it is a labor intensive process. This includes browning the bones/shanks, watching the stock burble (is it simmering too much, too little...), defatting, straining, then reducing the already reduced stock to 1/2 more again to get demi glace. I'd wind up with 1 1/2 mason jars of the stuff and that was after a lot of work and money (I always used veal and beef shanks).
It go so I treated the stuff like a rare bottle of wine and I became very reluctant to use it.
If you enjoy cooking and eating, try it once and see if you think it's worth the effort.
I would say that it is a useful experiment to understand the process and have a basis for comparing commercial results.
But, overall, I cannot say I use demiglace at home that often; maybe once or twice a year. I find that most palates really cannot appreciate the distinction it brings. Even my own on occasion (depends on the dish). Our palates are so used to big, bold (or worse and even more common, heavily processed) American flavors, so the subtleties of demiglace (other than textural, which I do think people notice) are rarely worth the effort for the home cook.
In a restaurant, where the effort covers many more meals close at hand, it's worth it.