In culinary school, Alex was introduced to demi-glace and she was instantly smitten. She ordered half a gallon of the stuff from the school’s restaurant and we’ve been using it at home in so many ways.
What is demi-glace?
Demi-glace is a rich sauce made by simmering brown (espagnole) sauce and veal stock until reduced by half.
Making demi-glace is a very long and involved process. It starts with brown sauce or espagnole sauce as it is known in French cooking. One of the five mother sauces as defined by Auguste Escoffier, brown sauce is much too strong to be used by itself. Instead, it is used as a base for derivative sauces including demi-glace.
Making brown sauce begins with dark brown roux to which veal stock, roasted bones, meat, vegetables and spices are added. The mixture is simmered until reduced, more stock is added, the mixture is further reduced, tomato puree is poured in and the mixture is reduced some more.
To make demi-glace, one part brown sauce and one part veal sauce are simmered together until there is only half as much liquid as there originally was in the pot.
When Alex’s class made demi-glace in school, the whole process took an entire day. It’s not something I’d attempt at home where leaving the stove on for an entire day will result in too much trapped heat in the house. That’s why when Alex wanted to buy demi-glace, I immediately said yes. We poured the demi-glace into several smaller containers which went into the freezer where it would stay good for six months.
How is demi-glace used?
Demi-glace is very strongly flavored so the best way to make the most of it is to use it sparingly. A little goes a long way. Use too much and you’ll just ruin the dish you’re making. Using demi-glace is about adding richness, not overwhelming the palate that other flavors in a dish get drowned out.
Add a couple of tablespoons of demi-glace to soup and stews to enhance their flavor.
Heat two tablespoons of demi-glace in a pan, throw in lightly seasoned grilled or roasted meat, give everything a few tosses and voila!
If you like flavoring your rice, stir in a little demi-glace to add some magic.
And, finally, adding demi-glace to gravy makes it richer. Just make your gravy as usual and stir in the demi-glace during the last few minutes.