Simple Demi-Glace

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[dropcap]B[/dropcap]one stocks and broths are one of the most nutritionally dense foods available, but like probiotic foods, it's often difficult to get enough of them in our diets. Demi-glace is an easy way to include concentrated amounts of bone stock in an every day meal – with the added bonus of being delicious!

Demi-glaces are an integral part of French cooking and sauces made from glaces elevate any meal to something special: they're one of the “mother sauces” from which dozens of other traditional French sauces are derived. Traditionally, demi-glaces are made by reducing brown bone stock with a brown sauce (sauce espagnole), which is already a reduction of brown stock with vegetables and herbs and thickened with a flour roux. The results of this are certainly mouth-watering and it's not difficult, but the process is lengthy with many steps.

Thus I haven't prepared demi-glaces that often – until now.

The other day I was flipping through my copy of Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making by James Peterson, one of the who's who among French-trained chefs in America,  and I saw this:

“To make modern deli-glace, simply take good gelatinous stock and reduce it to about a fifth of its original volume; to make meat glace (glace de viande), reduce the stock to a tenth or even a twentieth its original volume.”

Goodness, THAT's easy. One of the benefits of using roasted bones to make a stock is that the gelatin that is leached from the bones creates a nice firm gel, thus making it easy to turn it into a demi-glace.

How to Make Simple Demi-Glace

Choose a large roasting pan or hotel pan and fill with red meat bones (veal, lamb, beef, etc). Place in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven and roast for 20-30 minutes.

Half-fill a large stock pot with roasted bones and fill the stock-pot 3/4 with cold water. If there is no meat on your bones, add a few meat trimmings to give the final glace a richer flavor. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer over low heat and let simmer for 5-8 hours, skimming any impurities that foam on the surface. Add more cold water if at any point the bones are exposed above the water. The long simmer time is to allow gelatin and nutrients sufficient time to be leached from the bones.

When the stock is a deep brown, pour the liquid through a cheesecloth hung over a colander to clarify it.

Place the strained stock in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Let simmer until reduced to one-fifth of its original volume (or more if desired).

Sauce Estragon

Makes 1 cup

This is my favorite demi-glace-based sauce to accompany chicken.

3/4 cup white wine
4 tsp coarsely chopped tarragon stems
1 cup demi-glace
2 tsp fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

Bring the wine to a simmer for one or two minutes, then add the tarragon stems. Cover the pan and let the wine infuse for 10-15 minutes. Add the demi-glace and reduce the mixture by one-third. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a bowl. Stir the freshly chopped tarragon leaves in and spoon over chicken.


Easy Sauce Hussarde

Makes 2 cups

This is my favorite demi-glace-based sauce for red meats.

The thing with French cooking is that each sauce is named according to the exact ingredients and ratio of those ingredients in it – change one thing and you have a different sauce with an entirely different name. Even with that in mind, however, I substitute left and right when I'm making a sauce, merely because I don't stock all ingredients like a restaurant kitchen and want things quick and easy. I say all this merely for the purists in our midst who would be fairly quick to point out that this is not a true Sauce Hussarde, merely because I call for shallot, whereas it “should” be both shallot and yellow onion, and I also play fast and loose with the ratios of shallot, butter, ham, and garlic.

2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbls butter
7/8 cup white wine
7/8 cup demi-glace
1 Tbls. tomato puree
6 Tbls. chicken stock
2 oz. cured ham, chopped (Parma ham, prosciutto, etc), divided
1 clove of garlic, minced
a few stems of parsley and thyme, tied together
1 tsp. horseradish
1 Tbls. parsley, finely chopped

Gently saute the shallot in the butter until translucent. Add the wine and reduce by half.

Add demi-glace, tomato puree, chicken stock, garlic, herb stems, and half of the ham. Gently simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or a piece of cheesecloth.

Stir in the remaining ham, horseradish, and parsley and spoon alongside red meats.

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