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THE DEMI-GLACE CRISIS

Updated: May 10

My go-to Demi-Glace supplier went out of business, so I had no choice but to make my own.


In case you've been wondering, the fundamental distinction between home cooking and restaurant cooking can be summarized thusly-- save for special occasions, when feeding one's family at home we strive to make a lot out of a little... to extend delicious flavors into less expensive ingredients, as in a bowl of pasta flavored with a ladle-ful meaty red sauce, or maybe some sort of salad with a little protein and a larger proportion of veggies. In restaurants we typically see exactly the opposite... a little made from a lot, as in a sauce that is cooked down ("reduced") to a concentration of flavor more powerful than is generally produced in civilian kitchens. Demi-Glace is perhaps the epitome of the latter, used in sauces that taste like a whole pan-ful of luscious roast meat drippings in a single spoonful.


Demi-Glace-- the hidden backbone of many French meat sauces.


For as long as I've been cooking seriously, the MORE THAN GOURMET/DEMI-GLACE GOLD brand was my go-to retail source. Their Demi-Glace contains flour, but their Glace de Viande (more on that later) does not. But then, a few months ago and without warning or fanfare, this brand was no longer available. I know... another "First-World problem," right? But if you suspect that I might still suffer with PTSD from THE GREAT CRÈME FRAÎCHE MURDER MYSTERY OF 2024, you are not completely wrong.


This brand, once widely available in quality supermarkets and online, has recently been discontinued.


Oh, there are plenty of other brands of Demi-Glace out there... and if you read their lists of ingredients, you'll generally see a lot of long chemical names indicating a wide variety of sodium-based salts. No thanks. The upscale cookware retailer WILLIAMS-SOMOMA sells a decent (if flour-containing) version... at $33 for a 9.5 oz. jar! That might actually make sense for a swank suburban dinner party to feed the local country club set, but not for your Go-Big-Or-Go-Home Grumpy Old Mansplainer and his glutenista bride.


This will likely do nicely in a pinch... a very expensive pinch. Made from beef, not

glycerin-rich veal, so it is thickened with flour; but their Grass-Fed Beef Stock Concentrate

is not. I surmise that the latter is akin to my FAUX JUS.

So... how does one go about making Veal Demi-Glace? First, a little terminology.


Veal

Veal are simply young cattle. There are various sub-types of veal, e.g., milk-fed, grain-fed, etc. What they all have in common is youth, and with bovine youth comes bones with a higher gelatin content... the ingredient that gives sauces based on genuine Demi-Glace their silky and thick richness.


Demi-Glace

Literally, "half glaze." Cooking a stock down to a glaze means eliminating all the water. Demi-Glace is reduced, but not all the way-- so it still contains water. Reduce it until ALL the water is gone, and one is left with what is known as Glace de Viande, which freezes easily and takes up very little freezer space.


A typical Demi-Glace recipe calls for herbs and equal parts beef or veal stock and classic French Brown Sauce, a.k.a., Sauce Espagnole. So what the hell is THAT?


Brown Sauce, a.k.a. Sauce Espagnole

One of French cuisine's five Mother Sauces, Brown Sauce is made from browned mirepoix (diced carrots, onions, & celery) with tomato, beef stock, and herbs, and thickened with flour.


And so, to follow the established orthodox pathway for making Demi-Glace/Glace de Viande, one is required to make one sauce, and then a second sauce from the first... and also somehow come up with veal stock... AND use (gasp!) flour. I can knowledgeably assert that this method is not used anywhere except perhaps the stodgiest of culinary schools. Restaurants definitely don't. As a wizened veteran of the latter, I herewith present a common restaurant version and technique:


First, you're gonna need a bigger pot... a REALLY big pot... the kind of pot found only on Amazon or at a store like RESTAURANT DEPOT... a pot like THIS:


My 32-quart pot. I needed this PLUS my 16-quart pot to make this batch. Restaurants

often use aluminum; I prefer stainless, and I'm willing to pay for the difference.

Next, you need veal bones... a LOT of veal bones. It's unlikely you'll find them at a retail store, or even a restaurant supply store. I got mine from a local and very large meat wholesaler... the minimum order? A 50-lb. box, like this--


50 lbs. of veal bones for $200.


I thawed these, rubbed each with a little grape seed oil to facilitate browning, and then blasted them in batches in my convection oven at 325ºF. (A regular oven works fine, but it will take longer.) Then I added the browned bones to my large pots with browned onions, carrots, & celery along with a small can of tomato paste. I purchased five gallons of Poland Spring water to use in lieu of tap water because I didn't care to concentrate that much chlorine, et. al. with a long reduction.


After gently simmering for a full 24 hours and then removing the bones and reducing further, I was left with about 1.5 gallons of gelatinous, deep brown deliciousness. I've put it in my freezer until I got back home again. And then, after thawing, I scraped off the fat that had risen and formed a hard cap, strained the rest, and then reduced it until all the water was absolutely gone... leaving me with three quarts-- at least a year's supply-- of super-concentrated Veal Demi-Glace, a.k.a. Glace de Viande. Next time I make Prime Rib I'll combine a little of this with my Faux Jus and the residual liquid from a Red Wine Pot Roast to make the best beef gravy imaginable.




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2 comentarios


Mmmmmm. Red wine pot roast. Mmmmmmm.

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Dear Mansplainer,

Pray tell, Glutenista Bride? Does Andrea know this? I’m telling.

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