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Jun 26, 2011 12:27 AM

Demi-glace creation failure... distressed groan... compromise or forget it?

Hello all%3

I got a copy of Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook for Christmas. I have had a lot of lovely meals at the restaurant, and also love his writing and how he breaks down recipes into a manner that I find to be "human friendly". However, I have found some of the items Tony feels should be easily acquired by a human willing to do some legwork are pretty much missing in my neck of the woods.

Specifically, I am talking about veal bones to make veal stock, and thereafter demi-glace. I have searched and searched for the things, and have found to get veal bones in my area means buying a case of 25 pounds, at $5/lb or more. I have neither the cash nor the storage space.

I was told by one very kind butcher that I could use beef bones instead... but after reading a few threads on here and on other sites I realized that the end product is just not the same. I'd rather not waste the time, effort, and money to find out in the end that I just made a whole big batch of "icky goop" that makes everything taste like... icky goop.

I do have two options, and would like opinions, please!

1) Purchase chicken backs, wings, and/or leg quarters, and use them to make a very dark chicken stock that I reduce to a demi-glace. (If you vote for this, I would love to hear any input on your method.)

2) Purchase a pre-made veal stock based demi-glace such as those offered by "More Than Gourmet" brand or something similar.

ny and all thoughts are appreciated, thanks very much!

Be well,


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  1. Emmie, What do you plan to use this demi-glace for? That will make the difference on what bones you can use if you don't want to do veal---too expensive for me too.

    1. Ah, I assume that you were reading Carol's blog. But escondido's right - what do you want to use the stuff for?

      I make veal stock/demi-glace and glace de viande. This is used for more delicate sauces.

      I make beef stock and demi-glace. It's stronger tasting but this is used for "heartier" applications (e.g. braised beef shins).

      I make chicken stock/demi-glace, which I have used for "poultry" applications and as a way to supplement some other things. I make these from carcasses and chicken feet (no wings - I like to eat those); they get roasted before starting the simmering process. it doesn't get that dark asI don't use aromatics or tomato. Last time I made this I had 50+ carcasses in the pot (buy them from a Chinese grocer if one's in your area), and you definitely need feet for extra gelatin.

      2 Replies
      1. re: wattacetti

        I do use aromatics--carrot, yellow onion, celery in big chunks, peel on. I also don't use chicken feet--they are a plus but not a necessity in my book. I use bodies and wings and definitely don't use the large number of carcasses of watta--boy you must have a big stock pot to fit 50+!

        1. re: escondido123

          Vollrath 22 qt. You can get about 75-80 carcasses in there. I guess the odd part is skimming nails as the feet break apart during simmer.

      2. I use dark chicken demi glace for all applications. It's not 100% the same as veal demi. In some situations it can be better, and in almost all situations it is serviceable. But it's easy to make, easy to get just using the backs and wings of whole chickens I buy, and it's way better than not having any demi glace at all.

        Basically any time i'm have a few hours and a chicken, I brown the bones and a few vegetables, make the stock quickly in a pressure cooker, reduce the stock to a demi glace consistency, and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Makes about half a tray of demi glace cubes per chicken.

        1. Are we talking about a concentrated veal stock, or a concentrated stock plus sauce espagnole?

          You can make a highly gelatinous stock from items other than veal bones. My favorite is pigs feet. I bet a cows foot plus some roasted beef marrow bones would give a decent substitute for veal bones - the foot for the gelatin, the beef for color and 'beefiness'.

          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj

            I used beef bones once as a substitute for veal bones for a veal stock reduction when I couldn't find any veal bones. I was unhappy with the taste of the result so I never did it again. It was too sweet, for want of a better word. I am much happier using a chicken stock reduction in place of the veal. Real demi-glace (veal stock plus sauce espagnole) I have never done, stock reductions being quite suitable for my uses.

          2. Thanks, everyone, for your great replies! I am sorry it's taken me so long to respond.

            I am not looking to make the real classic demi-glace (veal stock with sauce espagnole) but rather a dark veal stock that is reduced to a thickened consistency. I want to use it to add some flavor and richness to sauces, stews, and the like. I'd be using it in dishes made of beef or veal.

            I've made my own chicken stock on a number of occasions. A few times I have used whole chickens simmered for hours, but my favorite method is to cut up backs and wings and/or leg quarters, brown them in batches, sweat them for about 20 minutes (at which point it seems most of the juices are pulled from the bones and meat) and then add water and simmer for about an hour. it makes a really great stock to use as the base for soups, but doesn't seem quite dark enough to qualify as a "dark stock", if that makes sense.

            I've made beef stock before as well, also to use as the base of beef soups. I found that in order to get a decent beef flavor I needed to use a lot of meat as well as bones. In addition, from what I've read recently, I hear that making a reduced stock from beef bones can turn out "gritty", or have very little meat flavor to it (although it may have a lot of gelatinous quality to it.)

            Cowboyardee's option sounds like it might be my best one if veal bones are simply out of my reach. The purchased concentrate could also work, and would certainly be easy to store. Does anyone have experience using those kinds of products?

            Thanks again, I look forward to hearing more opinions!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Emmie9999

              An Asian store usually has parts... Middle Eastern might be more likely to have veal bones.