Glace and Demi-Glace
Master Class application for your Stock
Introduction – Chicken – Pork – Beef
The types of products in this category of concentrated stock/broth/soup/sauce flavors can easily get confusing so let’s define some terms so we all understand what we are talking about and what exactly it is that we can make with our newly acquired stocks and broths.
This gets a little complicated in terminology as to what is what when it comes to traditional French cooking. I will lay out the basics of what it means to follow the official Escoffier method of making Glace, Demi-Glace and a couple of Mother Sauces, but you can adapt this to your own needs and desires. No need to get hung up in semantics.
|Brown Stock||Maximum reduction||True Beef Glace|
What is Bouillon, Base, and Glace/Demi-Glace?
The French sure know how to show off with their food and the classic Glace & Demi-Glace are one of their crowning achievements. It is the most concentrated form of stock and broth possible that can easily be stored and added to applications last minute with epic flavor.
The dry powdered bouillon that you buy in the store by brands like Knorr are more salt and chemicals than anything else, I generally will pass on these except for a few limited circumstances and they are better than nothing, but are my last choice in the arsenal.
The pastes and bases are far superior products to powdered ones and I use those a lot. They can church up a soup or sauce real fast and bring the flavors of this elaborate process to bear by the spoonful. Better Than Bouillon is my favorite brand and they make quite an array of flavors including low-sodium ones which are perfect for fortifying stocks and broths.
Glace and Demi-Glace are two refined bases that may or may not contain a thickening agent like flour. A well-made base and a Glace, are essentially the same thing except that a store-bought base like Better Than Bouillon is typically a concentrated broth base. This is a wonderful thing! It has tons of flavor, dissolves easily, and is long term shelf-stable in the fridge. The drawback is that they are pretty salty, even the low sodium ones are still pretty salt in of themselves. Bases are often meant to be diluted with water back into a broth, so they are a full spectrum flavor that has been concentrated down to a paste.
Let’s start with definitions
Powder that resembles the flavor of broth which, may or may not, have any real food components in it. Often full of salt and chemicals that mimic the flavor you are looking for. Tastes better than water, but is the lowest on the totem pole for flavor and quality.
As the name suggests, this is a thick paste of super-reduced broth that is very concentrated in flavor. Different brands will have different amounts of stock, or gelatin, components to them. In general though, these products are highly seasoned, very salty, and meant to be diluted back to their original product. You can dissolve one jar of base into approximately 3-5 gallons of water and have a balanced broth for myriad applications. There are a few great brands out there that make this product and it serves a great purpose, I use Better than Bouillon on a regular basis across many of their flavors.
The French term for a reduced stock, which we now know is different than a broth. Glace is a stock that has reduced so far as to become a thick syrup. We are talking around a 90% water reduction here and this is almost pure gelatin and protein at this point. Glace means “Glaze” or “Ice/icing” in French and is pronounced “Gloss”. You can make a Glace from any protein, with beef being the most traditional, but pork, chicken, and fish are options as well. Each Glace or sauce derivative is named by the protein source or final color of the end product in French. I’ll spare you all the esoteric terms here.
This reduction is a true Glace in that all the thickness and texture is due to the reduction of the gelatin and protein. No flour or starches are used to thicken this at all. The primary difference to note here is that a base or paste does not contain very much, if any, gelatin or collagen. Glace has a tremendous amount of both and is like a cube of jello when made correctly
Brown stock is made from a combination of Veal and Beef. If you used only Beef you could call it Beef Stock and vice versa for Veal stock, but classic French cooking always uses both together so they call it Brown Stock. Brown Stock is what we made in the beef stage before without the veal, but the classic French version incorporates more meat into the stock process and goes more the Bone Broth route from start to finish rather than so specifically separating Stock from Broth, as we did. If you combine 1 part of your Beef Broth and 2 parts Stock, approximately, you would have what traditional Brown Stock is in flavor.
This is Brown Stock that has been thickened with a traditional flour roux. If you reduce Brown Stock patiently and thoroughly you get Glace, if you thicken it artificially with starch then it is Espagnole Sauce. Thickening with starch is not bad or cheating, it is just one path to take. Espagnole is considered one of the 5 Mother Sauces of French cooking. The point here is to make a great stock and only thicken what you need per application.
One main difference is that Espagnole Sauce is traditionally made by mounting it with another round of mirepoix, tomato paste and herbs/spices. You are repeating the broth flavors while mounting the stock with starch to help compensate for the dulling effect that starch has.
This translates to a half gloss or half glaze. It is equal parts Espagnole Sauce( Brown stock and flour roux) and Brown Stock. So essentially if you took, say, 1 quart of Brown Stock and split it into two parts and appropriately thickened one half with a flour-based roux and then reincorporated the rest of the stock in and reduced the resulting mixture in volume by half, you would have a true Demi-Glace. Likewise, if you only used half the roux required to thicken one quart of Brown Stock and then reduced the whole mixture by half, you would get the same result. And….. essentially, if you took a true beef/veal Glace reduction that has no starch in it and diluted it by 50% with Brown Stock, you would, for all intents and purposes, have a Demi-Glace, or half gloss/glaze.
While we are on the subject I will lay out the other mother sauces and a couple of useful terms real quick.
The 5 mother sauces are:
Bechamel- a milk/dairy-based sauce, thickened with flour
Espagnole Sauce- a fortified brown beef/veal stock, thickened with a brown roux.
Velouté – a light-colored (chicken, vegetable, or fish) stock-based sauce, thickened with a roux or a liaison (a mixture of egg yolks and cream)
Hollandaise- an emulsion-based sauce made of butter and lemon (or vinegar), using egg yolks as the emulsifier.
Tomato Sauce- Made from scratch, the real deal, using fresh tomatoes and long-simmering times.