"To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glacé, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living." ~Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential
Have you had the pleasure of dining on Steak Diane? It is one of my favorite celebration dinners to prepare and the essential ingredient in the special sauce is demi-glacé. If you are not familiar with demi-glacé, it is simply a concentrated stock made from mushrooms, veal, beef or chicken. By concentrated I mean starting with 2-1/2 quarts of homemade stock and gently simmering until the liquid thickens and is reduced to 2-1/2 cups. That's a lot of evaporation resulting in deliciousness - that cannot be adequately described in words - and all it takes is time.
Time you say? Who has an abundance of time to wait upon a simmering stock pot? Granted, one can purchase Demi-Glacé. A tried and trusted brand that I have used over the years can be purchased at Williams-Sonoma. It's not inexpensive (about $30.00 for 9.5-ouces), however the raw ingredients will probably cost about the same amount of money. Demi-glacé could certainly be considered an artisinal product if it is made properly, and while it is not difficult to make, time is a precious commodity and it does take time to make, although not much "hands on" time.
If you are a multi-tasker like me, I choose to make the stock on a day that I will be at home focused on other activities. It's the gestation time, when the bones are roasting in the oven and then subsequently simmering on the stove with water, that consumes all the time. If you have a dependable stove, the attention needed is minimal when making stocks. You can be concentrating on other activities while taking a break now and then to check on the progress of the simmering brew.
I'm old enough to remember when butchers would give bones away for free, or at least one at a time, as a good will gesture for the family's pet to enjoy. You may need to shop a bit, not all stores carry beef bones because not all stores do butchering. Instead, butchering is done at a central location and packaged beef is distributed to markets. Whole Foods is a good source for bones, as is natural beef suppliers at a local farmers market. Some natural food stores will stock bones in the frozen foods section. Of course, good bones come from healthy cows, so being a wise consumer is knowing the quality of the beef you are buying, cooking and consuming.
What I like to do is divide the finished and cooled demi-glacé between ice cube trays and freeze. When the cubes are solid, I pop the two tablespoon sized cubes out of the trays and into a resealable freezer bag. I can then easily defrost the specific amount required for various recipes, including fortifying stocks for risotto, magnifying the flavor in a tomato sauce or quickly adding intense flavor to a pan sauce. I also swapped demi-glacé for the beef broth to make an incredible, to die for, Beef Bourguignon.
Linda and I used to love eating at the now defunct Masami Italian Restaurant in Los Olivos, California. Often we would order the Pollo Parmigiana and revel in the dish's depth of flavor. Linda swore that Chef Max pumped up the flavor in the tomato sauce with demi-glacé. After I prepared an excellent Bolognese sauce for the first time at home, I was able to draw the same comparison as Linda. It's all about the intense flavors derived from a reduced stock. If you taste a sauce at a restaurant and wonder why it is so much better than sauces you make at home, the answer is most likely demi-glacé.
The demi-glacé freezes well for up to six months, so if you make it now, you'll be in a good position to prepare incredible sauces in minimal time during the busy holiday season.
|The sauce is so thick, it will hold a spoon upright.
What makes this recipe gluten-free? The simple exchange of All Purpose Flour in favor of Mochiko Rice Flour. That's the thing about making a favorite savory recipe gluten-free, it is often as simple as exchanging one ingredient in a recipe: rice flour for wheat flour or Tamari in lieu of soy sauce.
I use a combination of soup bones and marrow bones. The good news is that you can use the bones at least twice. The first boil is dedicated to making demi-glacé. The second boil is to make a lighter beef stock suitable for a hearty soup, stew or risotto. The lighter stock can also be frozen for future use.
I adapted this recipe from Saveur Cooks Authentic American by the editors of Saveur Magazine. Demi-glacé will stay fresh for one week when stored in the refrigerator, or 6 months in the freezer.
Beef Stock Ingredients, yields about 10-12 cups (time equals about 5-1/2 hours):
8 to 9 pounds beef bones, cracked (I prefer center-cut marrow bones)
4 medium to large carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
4 medium to large stalks celery, chopped (about 2 cups)
3 medium to large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
1 6-oz can tomato paste
about 1 tsp sea salt and 10 to 12 grinds freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle good, drinkable red wine (3 cups) - you can substitute water or white wine
6 quarts filtered water
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 small handful parsley, washed
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
Ingredients for Finishing Demi-Glacé, yields about 2-1/2 cups (time equals about 6 hours):
1/4 pound uncured bacon, finely chopped
1 medium to large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
about 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup Mochiko rice flour for gluten-free preparation, or 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps tomato paste
10 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
about 10 cups beef stock (whatever the yield is from making the stock), divided: reserve 2 cups
A stock pan that at a minimum measures: 32.5-inch circumference and is 9.25-inches tall
my roasting pan measures: 16.5"x12.5"x3" and nicely accommodates the bones and veggies.
1. Place beef bones in a large roasting pan and place the pan on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Turn oven on to 400°F. If your oven runs on the cool side, boost the temperature to 425°F. Roast bones until brown, about 1 hour. Carefully, using tongs, flip the bones over and continue to roast for an additional 30 minutes.
|From uncooked bones...
|… to nicely browned.
3. Place roasting pan on top of stove and transfer bones and vegetables to a large stockpot. Heat roasting pan over medium-high heat, add 3 cups of wine and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan and sides. Simmer for about 1 minute, then add liquid to stockpot. Add tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley and 6 quarts cold filtered water. Simmer over medium-low heat, skimming occasionally, for 3 hours. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a slow slimmer.
4. After three hours, remove the stockpot from heat, cool slightly then strain stock. Keep bones if you are planning on making a second, lighter stock suitable for soups or risotto. Discard any other solids. Cool bones and refrigerate until ready to make second stock, within a day or two.
5. Cool the stock and refrigerate until ready to reduce. I usually do this final step within 24 hours of making the stock.
|Use red wine to deglaze the roasting pan to dislodge all the tasty bits
that are baked onto the bottom of the pan.
|With the last of the ingredients added to the stock pot, maintain a slow boil to reduce the liquid.
To make demi-glacé:
6. Fry diced bacon over medium-low heat in a large saucepan until the fat begins to render, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add diced onion, carrot and sea salt and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle vegetables with flour and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, and all the beef stock, except for 2 cups, which you need to reserve and keep refrigerated until needed. (If you refrigerated the stock overnight, remove and discard the hard fat cap.)
7. Simmer the stock, skimming as needed, over medium-low heat until sauce has reduced by three-quarters, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Strain sauce, discard solids and return to saucepan. Add the 2 cups of reserved beef stock and simmer over medium-low heat until sauce has reduced by half, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours, then strain. Cool, then refrigerate until very cold. Remove the orange-tinged fat cap and discard, leaving the delicious, dark, gelatin-like liquid called demi-glacé. Note: Purchased demi-glacé is thicker, more like a spreadable condiment. I prefer my homemade demi-glacé because it isn't as thick as commercial preparations.
6. Demi-glacé can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months. I prefer to freeze the cooled demi-glacé in ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, release from trays and store in freezer plastic bags, doing your best to remove as much air as possible. Makes about 2-1/2 cups.
Note: If you plan on boiling the bones for a second time to make a lighter stock called remouillage, place the bones in a stock pot and add 8 quarts of cold water. Add aromatics called for in the stock recipe (above) and bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce and slowly simmer for about 5 to 6 hours. Strain and discard solids. Cool and ladle into storage containers. Freeze if you please.
|The fat cap, pictured on the left, is removed and discarded
leaving only the rich, flavorful demi-glacé.