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Mar 28, 2013 10:13 PM

Can I use Beef Demi-Glace in place of Beef Stock?

I'm going to make short ribs this weekend. The recipe calls for 6 cups of beef stock (in addition to a bottle of wine, of course!). I don't have any beef stock, and in fact, I've read that the canned stuff is pretty bad. But I do have a packet of Savory Choice Beef Demi Glace. Can I dilute the Demi Glace with water and use that instead of the broth? If so, what proportions should I use? (The packet contains 1/2 cup of Demi Glace.)

I know that Demi Glace isn't the same thing as Stock that's been cooked down and reduced, so that's why I'm unsure if this substitution will work. Thanks!

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  1. No, demi-glace *is* a super-concentrated stock, so you should be fine diluting it. (okay, before the purists hyperventilate, the ingredients aren't exactly the same, but the basic concept remains)

    My stock-concentrate is about a tablespoon to two cups of water, so your half-cup of demi-glace *should* make six cups of stock with no issues.

    1. 6 cups? How big of batch is this?

      While the extra flavor from stock is nice, short ribs will cook just fine with water. Just try to keep the amount of added water to minimum. The meat does not need to swim. In most braising the meat is only half immersed in liquid.

      One option is to start with just enough water and wine to braise, and toward the end think about enriching the cooking liquid with your demi glace.

      But - have you looked at the ingredients on your packet? Here's what I find:
      "Ingredients: Reduced Wine, Vegetable Concentrate (Tomato, Onion, Carrot, Celery), Maltodextrin, Sugar, Beef Stock, Natural Flavor, Salt, Butter, Yeast Extract and Beef Fat."

      Their short ribs recipe:
      For 3-4 lb of meat this recipe uses 1/2 c wine, 2c water, and 1/2 pouch. Notice also, no added salt.

      When using prepared broths, stocks, and concentrates, use the saltiness as a guide. Your packet lists 380mg sodium per 2T.

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        I wondered about the quantity, too, paulj, as 6 cups of stock plus a bottle of wine is roughly 9 cups of liquid for a batch of short ribs....that's a LOT of liquid, unless you're braising a bathtub full of ribs.

        I would use the demi-glace, just under the thought that added flavor (even if it's watery) is better than no added flavor (just water).

        The caution about the sodium is a good one -- and a reminder to NOT add the recommended salt to the recipe until you taste it and see how much salt you need.

      2. To amplify what paulj suggested, I'd skip the demi-glace or canned broth and use water especially since the recipe also includes wine. I've been doing that myself with more regularity.

        Many newer recipes are written with tasteless conventional, commodity meats in mind that need all kind of flavor extenders/enhancers to taste like anything. If you're using better meat than that, all the beefiness you need is in the short ribs already. Adding a commercial demi-glace just muddies the waters, so to speak, and takes away from the clarity of that flavor that you may have paid quite a premium for. You can add it at the end if you taste the cooked result and feel it needs an extra boost.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          that's like adding spices after the cooking is done -- it might save something from being inedible, but it would be better to use it in the cooking liquid.

          1. re: sunshine842

            Actually, no, not quite the same. Spices need to go through an extraction step to give up their flavor to the whole. An already cooked down product like stock or diluted demi-glace is ready to go.

            In this specific case, I know goodeatsgal's posts on the SF Bay Area board and have the advantage of knowing that she takes a lot of care in sourcing her ingredients. Thus my caution to not sully good ingredients by adding bad stuff. And if she's managed to get her hands on some very flavorful Snake River Wagyu short ribs as she did corned beef for St Paddy's day, well, I have to shout it even louder. Use water!

        2. agree that water and wine is sufficient and superior to the demi-glace option you presently have.

          my rule of thumb is that if a packaged product contains ingredients i wouldn't use myself i don't use it. sounds like they put some v-8 in there, 2 kinds of sugar and "natural flavors" is usually code for msg.

          btw, i've been keeping aside beef braising liquid the last few times i've made chuck or short-ribs or some such. it's not salted yet and i take about 1/2, reduce it and freeze it for the next batch. the rest i keep, reduce and season for the current batch. am very happy with the results.

          2 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            The ingredient I was most reacting to was the "yeast extract". It's used by food processors to introduce glutamates as flavor enhancers as a substitute for MSG on the label that raises too many red flags with today's consumers.

            Saving and freezing the jus as you describe is something that one of my friends does when she makes brisket and her results are fabulous. I'm not that organized. :)

            Here's Michael Ruhlman, "In Defense of Water",

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              yup, agreed about the yeast extract. that packet just sounds entirely nasty.

              as for keeping cooking liquid aside, i've been doing it with separated animal fats for ages, so i don't know why i never thought of this before! a real homer "DUH!" moment for me, lol.

          2. Thanks for all of your comments! I have to admit I didn't look at the ingredients on the Demi-Glace because when I've had no stock in the house, I've used Savory Choice's broth concentrates. The first ingredient is the stock itself, which made me feel a lot better in spite of the other ingredients. I "assumed" that the Demi-Glace would be the same. :-( Since it's not, I will use water.

            I appreciate Melanie's comment that I usually try to source good ingredients. I do, most of the time. But I have to admit that yeast extract / MSG isn't as big a concern for me as other things. Perhaps because I grew up with MSG and my body doesn't react to it as is the case for other people.

            Finally, the recipe calls for 9 cups of liquid because after the braising, the short ribs are removed and the remaining liquid is cooked down to make a sauce. In case anyone is interested, here's the recipe - it was published in one of The Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks but came from a chef friend of hers.

            Thanks again! Happy Easter!

            2 Replies
            1. re: goodeatsgal

              Be sure to read the comments. Some are talking about too much sauce. There is a lot of vegetables (4c celery), and the meat cooks on top of those. I'd use water to reach part way up the meat, and adjust salt after all the reduction.

              1. re: goodeatsgal

                First thing that strikes me about the recipe is that she calls for 6 short ribs. Short ribs are cut in several sizes and shapes, and "six" doesn't give enough information. Depending on how they are cut, that could be 3 servings or 6 servings -- it depends more on what they weigh and how they are being served.

                The recipe you link sounds like it is easily for 6 lbs. or more. Eight cups of commercial beef stock could be a lot of salt, especially after being reduced.

                If you have homemade chicken stock, it might be a good substitute. And, as others have mentioned, I use a combination of water and chicken stock, plus the wine, all the time when braising beef.