If you are into French cuisine, you are probably familiar with a popular rich French sauce called the demi-glace. It is the base of many different sauces in French cuisine. Demi-glace is often used in soups and stews. Some cooks add a couple of spoons of demi-glace to a ragu as a thickening agent.
There are two major steps in making a demi-glace sauce – preparing the brown stock and the Espagnole sauce. Some people find it tedious, so they prefer buying the ready-made variety from the grocery. However, if you cannot find one at the store or you cannot make one yourself, there are substitutes that you can consider.
- High-End Concentrates
- Low-End Concentrates
- Beef Stock
- Beef Gravy
- Beef Bones Substitution
- Condensed Stock
- Canned Beef Consomme
Read on if you are keen to find out more about this interesting french ingredient and its possible alternatives for your recipes.
11 Best Substitute for Demi-Glace
The term “demi-glace” is roughly translated in English as “half glaze.” The term “glace” is a French word that means “glaze” or “icing.” It is attributed to the father of French cuisine, Auguste Escoffier.
It is made by mixing together Espagnole sauce (one of the mothers of French sauces) and brown stock. Espagnole is the French term for Spanish.
Being the base for other sauces, you can add red wine to make a red wine sauce, perfect for red meats. If you add mushroom, you get a delicious mushroom sauce.
The basic ingredients to make demi-glace include butter, garlic, onions, garni, celery, carrots, tomato paste, pork belly, chuck steak, and salt. Demi-glace is one of the sauces that you can keep in the refrigerator or freezer for about six months.
Companies are offering high-quality concentrates that can be formulated into sauces for recipes that require the use of demi-glace.
High-end concentrates usually consist of veal and beef stock mixed with carrots, onions, celery stock, tomato paste, red wine, beef and veal fat, and salt.
These are available in many gourmet shops and online grocery stores. Most of these concentrates should be kept refrigerated once opened. Most brands may have varying reconstitution ratios. However, most cooks use 1 ounce of concentrate per 4 to 5 liquid ounces.
Low-end concentrates are obviously cheaper than high-end concentrates. This is because of the ingredients used. Modified food starch is normally the primary ingredient of a lot of low-end concentrations, followed by these ingredients:
- Partially hydrogenated soybean or cottonseed oil
- Hydrolyzed corn protein
- Concentrated beef broth
- Autolyzed yeast extract
- Dried beef extract
- Cooked beef fat
- Butter oil
- Tomato powder
Store-bought demi-glace sauces are often quite expensive. If you want to experience using demi-glace in your dishes but you don’t have the budget for it, then low-end concentrates would be your best option.
Beef stock doesn’t actually have the depth of flavor or texture of the original beef demi-glace; you can still use it as a substitute for some of your favorite dishes.
But this does not include those recipes or sauces that need the texture and the flavor profile of demi-glace.
If you boil the beef broth, you can get an enhanced beef flavor profile, plus it will have a similar texture to that of the “real” demi-glace. If you are using beef broth, remember to omit any water (if the recipe indicates it).
Beef gravy is one of the most popular demi-glace substitutes because you can easily get it from your local grocery store. You can buy the ones in jars or powder form.
However, powdered gravy may not be as good as the ones in jars. Beef gravy in jars has similar color, thickness, and texture to that of the demi-glace sauce; hence, a better option.
You can use beef gravy in roast beef, roasted potatoes, or pies.
If you want an authentic demi-glace sauce but you don’t want to use veal bones to make the stock, you can use beef marrow bones instead.
Many professional chefs do not recommend this option because they feel that without the veal bones, the sauce will not be as rich and creamy.
Demi-glace, as mentioned earlier, is used as the base sauce for many other sauces, soups, and some stocks. If you use bone marrow as a replacement, the resulting sauce may not be as flavorful.
Making an authentic demi-glace may be time-consuming, hence, some home cooks use condensed stocks as an alternative. Condensed stocks are beef-based stocks that are in paste form. These are usually added to water or red wine to create instant demi-glace sauce.
Canned Beef Consomme
Canned beef consomme is usually store-bought. Using this can give almost the same results as the original demi-glace sauce. It has a deep, rich flavor, and thick consistency.
Chicken Demi Glace
Some people don’t like the smell and taste of beef in their meals. If you are one of these people, there is an alternative that you can use to make a delicious chicken demi-glace sauce. Preparing chicken demi-glace is similar to making beef demi-glace.
Boil chicken to get a deliciously rich chicken broth. Remove all the chicken pieces and simmer the broth further. After a few hours, your chicken broth will have a creamy consistency.
Vegetable Demi Glace
If you don’t like veal or chicken, you can try making your own vegetable demi-glace sauce.
What You Need:
- 1 liter of vegetable stock
- 50 grams dried porcini mushrooms
- 40 grams white onions, finely chopped
- 120 grams carrots, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 200 ml medium sherry
- 200 ml red wine
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- 5 grams parsley
- 5 grams thyme
- 5 grams rosemary
- 2 pieces of dried bay leaves
- 5 peppercorns
- 5 all-spice
Step By Step Guide:
- In a mixing bowl, soak the porcini in 500 ml of boiling water.
- Heat olive oil over medium to high heat, while constantly stirring, until the onions achieve an even nutty brown color, make sure not to burn them.
- Add the chopped carrots and celery. Turn the heat to low.
- Add tomato puree and flour. Continue to simmer, while stirring regularly for 5 minutes.
- Pour in the stock, red wine, sherry, tamari, and mushrooms (including soaking liquid), and all the herbs, peppercorns, and all-spice.
- Simmer on medium heat for another 20 minutes, covered.
- Use a fine sieve when straining the liquid. Let it cool before putting it into sealed containers
Here’s another version of a vegetable demi-glaze:
- Bring to a boil in a saucepan some vegetable stock, while gradually adding flour. Stirring occasionally to avoid lumps.
- Cook the vegetable until you get a thick consistency.
- The thickness of your vegetable stock sauce will depend on how much flour you add. If you want a thicker sauce, then add more flour.
- You know you’ve achieved the right consistency for the sauce if you do a “spoon test” – if you have difficulty moving the spoon through the sauce, then your demi-glace substitute sauce is ready.
- Remove from heat and let it cool.
This demi-glace substitute is ideal for people who don’t eat meat. The consistency and the brown color of mushroom stock are similar to beef stock.
In addition, its umami flavor can enhance any dish. You’ll also get protein, vitamins, and minerals, making the mushroom stock a healthy alternative to non-veg demi-glace.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Cream of mushroom can be used as a basic soup. It also helps enhance the flavor and creates a smooth texture for many side dishes, as well as for casseroles, roasts, and stews.
Demi-Glace Substitute Related FAQs
What are the uses of demi-glace?
Demi-glace is referred to as the foundation of all kinds of sauces and gravies. It can make stews, soups, and risottos more flavorful. It is a classic French sauce; you can use it in most of your favorite French dishes.
It has a rich flavor with hints of meat (depending on the meat used). There are variations to the demi-glace now, like the ones we have listed above as more people are looking for a healthier alternative to their food.
How can I make the right choice of demi-glace substitute to use?
Most of the ones we have on the list above can give you similar results. Making your demi-glaze sauce, like the ones we gave you, will most likely be the closest you can get to an authentic demi-glace sauce. So, if you have time to spare, you should make your own demi-glace.
Although the process will take hours, we assure you that it will be worth it. Making demi-glace, we believe, is a labor of love and a homemade sauce surely gives a homey vibe to food.
However, if you are pressed for time, the store-bought gravy would be an ideal choice.
Are demi-glace and gravy the same?
The two are different, but they are considered to be closely related. Demi-glace is made from long hours of reduction of brown stock while simmering in Espagnole sauce. It makes a rich addition to any dish, like gravy, only with a stronger flavor profile.
On the other hand, gravy is a thickened sauce made from the juice of meat. Cooks use cornstarch or flour to thicken the sauce. Because of this, gravy has a pasty consistency and it may need a lot of seasoning to achieve the level of richness that demi-glace can give.
Is demi-glace the same as stock?
Demi-glace is essentially made of stock that was reduced to about 1/10 of its original volume. You can also make a demi-glace by mixing together equal parts of brown stock and Espagnole sauce.
Some people use cornstarch as a stock thickener to make a cheaper alternative to demi-glace. While this may work as it does speed up the process of achieving a thicker consistency, cornstarch often creates an unpleasant glue-like texture.
Can I use bouillon cubes?
Both demi-glace and bouillon cubes are made from stock, however, bouillon is more dehydrated and is supposed to be used to enhance the flavor of large amounts of liquid base.
We do not recommend the use of bouillon to make your own demi-glace because we find bouillon cubes to be too salty. Plus, using bouillon cubes cannot provide you with the richness of flavor that demi-glace provides.