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What is Demi Glace?

What is Demi Glace?  It’s only the most indispensible ingredient for making brown sauces.  Professional chefs know that the secret to making rich and flavorful gravies for beef, veal, lamb or game lies in the few simple steps needed to make their sauces pop.

Demi Glace uses one of the mother sauces, called “Espagnole”.  The brown sauce is combined with brown stock and reduced by half.  This means that the two ingredients are combined and softly simmered until half the moisture evaporates, intensifying the flavor and reducing the volume.

The resulting ingredient is intensely flavored and extremely rich, with a full bodied texture.  Espagnole sauce is already packed with flavor, but when you eliminate half the liquid in the sauce, it really packs a serious meaty punch.

This is an important food staple in the commercial kitchen, and can be in your home as well.  It takes only a small bit of skill, but a lot of patience as you wait for the sauce to condense.  However, the real key is to start with an excellent brown stock.

A quality brown stock is made from beef bones that have been caramelized along with carrots, onion and celery in the oven.  Ingredients that are nicely browned give the flavor and color to a great stock.  While these two elements are important, it’s the marrow of the bones, cartilage, and connective tissues that turn to gelatin when cooked in a moist environment.

The toasted bones and veggies are then added to a stock pot with enough COLD water to cover all the items entirely.  This should then be gently simmered for at least 5 hours to achieve a brown stock that when cooled and skimmed of fat will jiggle like Jello.

So, what is demi glace if you try to use Stock vs Broth?  It’s a thin and blandly flavored beef soup.  It’s absolutely imperative to use stock rather than broth because the stock has the gelatin that gives the texture and richness to all the small brown sauces that come from Espagnole.

Since great sauces always start with roux, the next step is to make a brown roux by melting butter in a sauce pan, adding flour to a paste-like consistency and cooking until it reaches a deep brown color and emits a toasted nutty smell.  This will become the thickening agent for the brown stock you made and the first part of demi glace.

Once you’ve made a flavorful brown sauce with brown roux and brown stock, you’re almost there.  Since demi glace is half brown sauce, half brown stock, reduced by half, all that is needed is an equal amount of stock added to the sauce and some patience as you watch it release moisture and reduce.

The finished product can be used immediately to make a long list of “Small Sauces” that derive from Espagnole.  Small sauces are the ones that utilize Mother Sauces as a blank canvas and continue adding ingredients for additional levels of flavor.  You can get a free downloadable PDF of my Mother Sauces Family Tree. 

If you’re still asking “what is demi glace” you’re missing out.  It might take some time to complete, but you’ll be using a richly flavored, silky textured ingredient that will add a professional level of flavor to all the foods you cook.  Plus, you made it, you created it, and it didn’t come from a jar with mystery ingredients and binders.  It’s real, it’s wholesome, it’s natural and it’s coming to your kitchen soon!

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