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How to make a Perfect Demi-Glace

Updated on February 18, 2010

Why Demi-Glace?

 For those of you who aren't familiar with using demi-glace or don't know what it is, it's an incredibly rich stock made with roasted calf bones or beef knuckle, mirepouix and various herbs and aromatics. Also called Sauce Espagnole, demi-glace was catagorized by 19th century Chef, Antoine Careme as one of the four "mother sauces", had been prized for it's flavor and versatility for many centuries before, and is still valued by Chefs today. Just a small amount of demi-glace can add intense flavor to your meats, soups or sauces and with it's nappe consistency, reduces the need for off-flavor thickening agents such as flour or cornstarch.

What you'll need...

Demi-glace is surprisingly simple to make but does require some professional kitchen equipment you may not find in your home kitchen.

  • 22 Quart Stock-Pot (Make sure to choose one with a heavy bottom to prevent scorching)
  • 16 Quart Stock-Pot (Again with a heavy bottom)
  • Conical Strainer or "China-Hat"
  • Fine Mesh Sieve or Chinois
  • Large Wooden Mixing Spoon

Now that you have all the equipment, it's time to go shopping! You can find all these ingredients at your local supermarket with maybe the exception of the bones. You can find these at your local butcher and they are usually relatively cheap.

  • Appr. 25 Lbs of Calf Bones or Beef Knuckles (Preferably split. Your butcher can do this)
  • 5 Lbs Peeled Carrots
  • 5 Lbs Peeled White Onion
  • 5 Lbs Celery
  • 1 Cup Whole Peppercorns
  • Appr. 20 Whole Bay Leaves
  • 2 Bunches Fresh Whole Thyme
  • 2 Bunches Fresh Whole Parsley

Optional Ingredients

A lot of restaurants will make demi-glace one or more times a week and will save their vegetable scraps to throw in. Things like tomato tops, mushroom stalks, squash ends and various herbs that are to old to garnish with can all end up in the demi but many a Chef will refuse to use the ends choosing to keep the purest demi-glace possible. I've cooked demi in several different kitchen and have both used trimmings as well as not using them and while I pride myself as a purist, I couldn't really taste a difference. There are certain ingredients I WON'T add to my demi but each Chef is different...

  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic (I would NEVER use garlic in demi-glace but some Chefs swear by it)
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Leeks
  • Green Onions


On to cooking...

 The first thing you'll have to do is roast the bones. Some Chefs like to toss them in olive oil and season them but this is an unnecessary step in my opinion. Just lay them out on heavy duty sheet-pans and pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. You'll want to flip them a few times during the roasting process to evenly brown them using tongs. Meanwhile, cut your carrots, onions and celery into manageable chunks (they don't have to look pretty) and set aside. Once the bones are done roasting, add all ingredients including the bones to the stock pot and fill almost to top with water. For extra rich broth, deglaze your sheet-pans and pour drippings into the stock pot as well. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn heat to a low simmer. Allow to cook for about 6-12 hours stirring occasionally or until reduced by approximatly 1/4 volume. Now, carefully strain the mixture into the 16 quart stock pot using the conical strainer discarding everything but the liquid. Return the 16 quart stock pot to a low simmer for another 2-4 hours and skim any foam that may rise to the top. Once finished, strain the liquid into a plastic container or clean bucket using the fine mesh strainer and allow to cool. Fat solids will rise to the top and if desired, can be spooned off for a lower fat demi-glace. If stored in the fridge, the demi will gelatanize (perfectly normal) due to the pectin in the marrow. If you wish to store in the freezer, I recommend using smaller containers or even ice trays so that you won't have to defrost a large amount every time you use it.

So there you have it!

Demi-glace - just like that! Other than the fact that it takes a very long time (don't try to rush it) to cook, demi-glace is very easy to cook and it's easy to cook with. Demi makes a great sauce by itself but here are some ideas to try cooking into the finished demi-glace to make some other superb sauces:

  • Red wine
  • Whiskey/Bourbon
  • Shallots or Garlic
  • Honey
  • Pomogranite
  • Balsamic
  • Apple Cider

Bon Appetit!


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    • profile image

      Chef Senchuck 3 years ago

      The traditional demi glace does consist of an espanogle sauce that is fortified with a brown stock, however, it is a lot more time consuming. This recipe is simplified and as you can see from this recipe there already is a lot of time involved, so it all comes down to how much time you have on your hands. The end result will still serve its purpose as a demi glace.

    • Delaney Boling profile image

      Delaney Boling 5 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Joshua, but I have to ask where you cleave your culinary knowledge from? I've very familiar with Sauce Espangole (as well as the other "Mother" sauces), and I have never seen it used as a demi-base. Mind you, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Alice Waters, Marco Pierre White and Wolfgang Puck preferred my "brown stock reduction" when I was cooking in the City.

      So then... why don't you teach us all the correct way to make demi instead of critiquing my writing?

    • profile image

      Joshua 5 years ago

      It's funny to me how people will explain to others something they don't understand as if it's the right way to do it. You have essentially made a brown stock reduction, not a Demi. Demi glacé is made with an espanogle sauce and fortified with a brown stock. Not just a reduced brown stock. Do your homework before teaching others incorrect cooking techniques.

    • Delaney Boling profile image

      Delaney Boling 8 years ago

      They usually start to lose flavor after 1/2 a year in the trays but in the larger sealed containers can last up to a year. Another great thing about this recipe is that the ingredients cost about $25 total! So, even if you end up throwing half out it's no big deal. Also, I like to save the boiled bones to give to my dog as a treat!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Dear Delaney,

      What a great idea. I will definitely use the ice cube trays. I wonder, how long can they last in the freezer and still maintain quality?

    • Delaney Boling profile image

      Delaney Boling 8 years ago

      Thanks breakfastpop! Agreed that it's not the simplest recipe out there but it's definatly worth the time involved! Also, true demi-glace isn't something you can pull off in smaller batches so this recipe yields about 12-14 quarts. In a regular household, that would probably last several months so I highly recommend freezing the majority of it. I like to put them into ice cube trays so I can pop a few out every time I need them. Stay tuned for more great recipes!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Great recipe, a bit involved but definitely worth it. Thanks so much.