This is a very important Mother Sauce, and you will see it referred to frequently in the documents and tutorials in this site. Even though it is made from beef (and veal, long ago, now), Sous Vide Demi-Glace is well suited to many dishes that incorporate poultry, lamb, pork, etc. It’s a good idea to keep at least a cup or two in the fridge at all times, and it freezes extremely well, too. There are good versions that can be purchased, like Knorr Demi-Glace but it is expensive to make, and the prices reflect that. It can be made using poultry bones, or pork bones, when beef is not available. Lamb bones have a pretty dominant flavor and aroma, so I typically don’t recommend using it to make sauces. Lamb fat also has a lot of stearine in it, which causes it to burn easily.
That was then, this is now…
Beef shanks used to be giveaway items, until cheap cuts got rediscovered and became fashionable. Even so, all that bone, marrow, connective tissue, and well developed muscle provides flavor in a concentrated form in stocks and sauces. I noticed that Beef neck bones are reasonably priced sometimes, they will work fine for this too. the best results come from bones that have a least a LITTLE meat on them.
It is not really NECESSARY to utilize sous vide to make a good Demi-Glace. But, application of the technology to the simmering stage does have its benefits. For one thing, there is less mess, and little or no risk of scorching or over-reducing. Once you’re in the tank, you can pretty much set it and forget it. This is good, because this sauce should really cook at least 12 hours, even 24. 183F is the perfect temperature for extracting the flavor of the solid ingredients, and for breaking down the collagen and connective tissue. Many cooks actually OVER boil this sauce, which can damage the end product.
- Beef Shanks, or, other, approx 1 lb.
- Celery Stalks, outer, approx. 6 oz.
- Carrots, approx. 6 oz.
- Onions, approx 12 oz.
- Tomato PASTE, one 6 oz. can, mixed with
- Red wine, approx. 12 0z.
- Water, approx. 3 quarts
I’m using a glass pan here, and they work okay, pretty easy to clean. They also break, so, most sauciers use metal roasting pans to make demi. Preheat your oven to 350F, and put in just the meat/bones
Mirepoix is a thing
Add the vegetables after the initial roasting of the shank, ABOUT 1.5 hours@350F at this point. Once the mirepoix hits the pan, the vapor prevents the meat from burning, a concept frequently shied away from. Tenderness notwithstanding, the meat should look “done,” fully browned. Don’t worry–even if the meat is well browned already, it will not burn.
Add the onion, after the celery and carrots have spent an hour in the pan. You can see, the meat has continued to darken, but not very much. Onions brown a lot faster than celery and carrots, another principle frequently ignored.
After another hour, you can see the onions have browned, and they should be at LEAST this dark.
Mix the tomato paste and wine together, and pour over the bones and mirepoix. The slurry of the wine and tomato paste pretty much covers everything, preventing any further browning.
Now we’re getting somewhere…
After only about half an hour, the color of the wine and tomato paste is very deep. It’s a beautiful thing. At this point, everything goes in a gallon bag, and hangs on the side of your Sous Vide vessel (not pictured). If you carefully add the water now, it will slowly sink the bag and its contents. Let it process for at LEAST 12 hours @183F.
This is a simple, no nonsense set up to strain. I like to lift the solid ingredients out with tongs or a slotted spoon and put them in a separate colander to drain. The bag of liquid is then just that much lighter and easier to handle, even though it’s still hanging on the side of the vessel. Once that’s done, ladle the stock out of the bag into the strainer, until the bag is empty enough to easily remove and to finish pouring through the strainer.
Your yield should be just about 2 quarts, not really Demi-glace, more of a very rich brown stock. You can reduce it all at once by one half to about one quart, or, as needed. The process of reduction does increase the balance of salt that is naturally present, so, make sure you taste the stock before you season it.
Basically, the same process, with chicken carcasses. Without the addition of the tomato paste and wine, it still makes a nice, sturdy, dark broth.