The 2 Best Methods To Start A Successful Demi-Glace

Cooks may already be familiar with the five classic French mother sauces: béchamel, velouté, espagnole, hollandaise, and tomato. There's also mornay, which is basically an upgraded béchamel with cheese. But, there's also what is arguably the richest dressing of them all — that's right, we're talking about demi-glace. 

This flavorful brown jus isn't technically one of the mother sauces, but it may as well be one. Demi-glace is often used as the base of many other dressings, but its savory, aromatics-packed taste makes it a standout even on its own. Youtube chef Adam Ragusea said, "To call this classic sauce base 'kitchen gold' would be to overly flatter gold," Because of its many applications as a base and an individual jus, some cooks would agree. 

Want to up your next dinner with a dressing worthy of your finest cut of meat? These are the two best methods to start a perfect, flavorful demi-glace.

Use a mother sauce base

The traditional method for starting a demi-glace is with an espagnole –- one of the five mother sauces we mentioned earlier. A basic brown jus, it has an indulgent, gravy-like taste and serves as the base for many dressings, soups, and stews. As with most of the mother sauces, it is made with a roux, or a mixture of flour and fat. Then, you add your aromatics: finely diced vegetables and tomato puree. Finish it with a dark stock, and you have your demi-glace base.

After you've made your espagnole, it's time to add your stock and a sachet of herbs — you can use whichever you like, but thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorn are traditional. Reduce by half, and then you've got your demi-glace. It will be ready to be served as-is over a seared ribeye and mashed potatoes or used as a starter to elevate a hearty pot of beef stew. Just try to resist the temptation to eat it out of the pan with a spoon.

Start with stock

For every traditional cooking method, there's usually an alternative that gets the job done well. When it comes to a demi-glace, besides using an espagnole base, you can also start with a stock — either of the chicken, beef, or veal variety. 

Ideally, homemade broth is best, as it is more flavorful. However, if you'd like to use boxed stock instead, that works too. Just take some time to doctor it up first by simmering it for 20-30 minutes with diced vegetables, herbs, wine — either red or white is fine — and tomato paste. Once your broth is ready, cook it stovetop on low heat for five to six hours. Then, strain and simmer the remaining liquid uncovered until reduced. 

Although this method of creating the savory sauce is more time-consuming, it's also more hands-off. If that's your cooking style, this is a great way to make a successful demi-glace that's just as tasty as the traditional route.