Demi-Glace 101: Fine Dining At Home

Nothing makes a home-cooked meal sound like a fancy restaurant-worthy dish than throwing in some French terms when describing it.

But instead of using random French descriptions to make your meal sound more soigne, why not actually incorporate some French cooking techniques in order to improve your home cooking?

Demi-glace is an essential component of French cuisine and is used in a variety of dishes. Just like gravy (but not a gravy), demi-glace is versatile and can add flavor to dull dishes, enrichen soups and stews, or act as a base for delectable sauces.

What is Demi-Glace?

In the world of French cuisine, demi-glace refers to a “half glaze” or rich brown sauce used by itself or as a base for other sauces.

It is different from stock and gravy - demi-glace is thicker and more flavorful. It’s a dark sauce that combines brown stock from meat with Espagnole sauce.

This is why it’s called a “demi” (or “half”) glaze - you combine half brown sauce (the Espagnole sauce) with half brown stock and reduce it by half.

Demi-glace can be a sauce on its own or act as a base sauce. It will uplift the flavor of your food and give it a deeper and richer taste.

Here’s a basic demi-glace recipe to get you started on your fine-dining at home experience:

How to Make a Basic Demi-Glace

Typically, demi-glace is made with fresh stock made from leftover meat and bones. However, as a shortcut, you can use high-quality stock.

To make a demi-glace, you will need some cheesecloth as well as cooking twine.

As for the ingredients, here is what you will need:

For the Spice Pouch

  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6-8 fresh parsley stems
  • 8-10 whole peppercorns

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onions
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups stock, divided
  • Salt, to taste


Place the spice pouch ingredients onto a square of cheesecloth and tie up the bundle with the cooking twine.

Place a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add the butter, onions, celery, and carrots. Saute for a couple of minutes (until the onions become translucent).

Sprinkle in the flour, stirring until it forms a paste. Stir frequently and cook for around 3 minutes until the flour is a light brown.

Whisk in 3 cups of stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, lower to a simmer, add the spice pouch and reduce the liquid by about a third - this should take around 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and set aside the spice pouch. Carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, using a spoon to gently push the sauce from the vegetables.

Return the sauce to the pan, stir in the remaining stock, and throw in the spice pouch.

Bring the contents back to a boil then lower to a simmer. Leave it there for about 50 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half.

Toss the spice pouch and strain the sauce through a fresh piece of cheesecloth.

Before serving, season the demi-glace to taste with salt.

Demi-Glace Variations

Demi-glace is typically made with veal bones that have been reduced to a stock. This is because veal bones have more collagen than beef bones. While simmering, the collagen transforms into gelatin and creates a thicker and richer stock.

However, that’s not to say you can’t use beef stock when making a demi-glace.

In fact, it’s possible to make a chicken demi-glace as well. Simply simmer chicken wings in a pot to extract the flavor and use this stock in your demi-glace.

You can really emphasize the chicken flavor by adding white wine and leek to the carrots, onion, and celery!

Demi-Glace At Home: Tips and Tricks

Now that you know how to make a demi-glace, let’s look at some ways you can use it in your cooking! 

  • Freeze Demi-Glace. Unless you are feeding a table full of people, it’s likely that you are going to end up with demi-glace leftovers. You can keep the demi-glace on hand for some future fine dining at home by freezing it for 3-4 months
  • Refrigerate Demi-Glace: You can also keep demi-glace in your fridge in a sealed container for up to two weeks.
  • Add Flavor: Use demi-glace to add some extra flavor to stews, soups, and stir-fries!
  • Make a Sauce: Demi-glace can be used as a base for some delicious sauces such as red wine sauce and mushroom sauce.

Apart from adding demi-glace into other recipes, it can be used on its own. Pour your demi-glace onto roasted meats and even steaks and pork chops!

Too Much Work! Demi-Glace Substitutes

Demi-glace is a culinary staple that is well worth the effort. Honestly, nothing can really substitute a delicious demi-glace!

However, if you want to simulate the heightened experience of consuming a beautifully made-at-home demi-glace, you can try one of these substitutions:

  • Gravy: Both gravy and demi-glace have a savoury and meaty flavor - and they both use stock as a base ingredient. However, you won’t get as rich a flavor with gravy as you would with a demi-glace.
  • Bouillon Cubes: Bouillon cubes are basically just dehydrated stock used to flavor larger amounts of liquid. They are great for adding a meaty flavor to dishes but they tend to be salty and not as rich in flavor.
  • Stock: Some people will thicken stock with cornstarch to make a demi-glace substitute but the cornstarch can end up gluey and you’ll miss out on the additional flavors from the vegetables and spices.

Fine-Dining At Home

You don’t need expensive kitchen equipment or ingredients to make a meal at home that is worthy of a five-star restaurant!

Demi-glace is not only a French term that sounds fancy but it’s also a savoury and delicious addition to any dish that will enhance both the flavor and the experience.

A good demi-glace deserves good meat! Our selection at D’Arcy’s Meat Market is locally sourced and includes poultry, beef, and pork as well as some exciting choices such as veal, bison, and even boar!

Come check out our variety of meat choices or contact us for special requests.
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