Ryan’s Super Simple Beef Stock & Demi-Glace Method
DISCLAIMER: This isn’t a full-blown, measurements included recipe. Go google exact measurements if you’re brand new at cooking and trying this out. It’s not difficult, and even a newbie hack chef can pull this off. If you’re a fan of extremely flavourful food, relatable science and expending little to no effort, have I got the thing for you! We’ve all had that one plate of unforgettable roast beef. That incredibly rich stir fry that just hits every single receptor in your mouth. Taste and smell are really strong memory triggers, and when we are done here, you will be manipulating your friends and family’s memory of “that perfect beef dish” because it will be yours.
What is “Demi-Glace?”
Demi-glace is a rich brown sauce in French cuisine used by itself or as a base for other sauces. The term comes from the French word glace, which, when used in reference to a sauce, means “icing” or “glaze.” It is traditionally made by combining one part espagnole sauce and one part brown stock.
The Most Important Ingredient That is Not Negotiable For this Dish?
When you hear “hack,” it’s usually a flag to make things faster and easier. While this project is inherently easy, the hardest ingredient to procure is patience. This stuff takes time. The longer you draw the processes out below, the better this becomes. I aim for around 24 hours. Don’t let that scare you. The prep and actual hands-on work amounts to less than an hour. Your stovetop and science does all the heavy lifting for you. Work smart, not hard!
What Do I Need To Buy?
Talk to your butcher. You want a lot of marrow in these bones. The amount of flavour that is contained in marrow is mind-blowing. If you’re ever in an upscale joint and they offer marrow, spring for it. It’s life changing. “Broth bones” are generally neck bones, knuckle bones, or rib bones. Marrow bones are femur bones, tibia and shank bones Tell the butcher you’re making soup stock and demi-glace. A mixture of both of these bones is perfect (broth bones are usually cheaper than marrow bones.) They should know what you want. Veal bones are great for this endeavor as well. Meat scraps on the bone are a bonus. Just make sure there is some marrow!
Mirepoix: (pronunciation: meer-PWAH)
Sounds fancy, huh? It’s literally onion, celery and carrots. Also referred to as the holy trinity of all bases. The onion lends to the depth, the carrots add natural sugar that ends up helping the browning process during reduction. Celery has a more sinister job and adds natural salts and bitterness to balance the flavour out. See? All that work this simple medley offers makes it deserved of a fancy AF name. I add leeks to mine. It’s not a deal-breaker if you don’t, but it adds another layer of subtle, middle-filler flavour.
Olive Oil – High smoke point. Tastes good. Enough said.
Espagnole – AKA “Brown Sauce”
This sounds fancy, but it’s literally just the name. It’s what you buy whenever you buy “Brown” in the Club House sauce section. Typically made from brown stock, mirepoix, and tomatoes, and thickened with roux (Flour and fat, slowly browned. It’s what makes gravy thick.) What you’re making is really what this is, so if this is your first crack, go ahead and use the packaged stuff to get you going.
Tomato Paste, Salt & Pepper
Get a can of tomato paste. You’ll need it (sparingly) when you flip the roasting bones. Salt & Pepper should be sparsely used throughout your entire process here. Taste, add, repeat. Some of the most amazingly executed dishes in culinary history have been completely dicked by under-seasoning. Season lightly at every step!
Bay Leaf, Fresh Thyme Sprig, Black Peppercorns
Dry bay leaf is fine. Fresh sprig of thyme is best, and full peppercorns are essential. They get caught in the sieve during draining. You want all the flavour, just not the grit.
Full-Bodied Red Wine
Grab a bottle of your favourite red or explore a new one. Enjoy it in your dish, and while you cook. You deserve it. You’re about to make some culinary magic here! You’ll be using this to deglaze the pan you’re roasting those bones in, adding a little to the stock and treating yourself while you’re being ever-so-patient.
Pitter Patter. I have All the things. Let’s Go!
STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 450°. Drizzle the pan with olive oil. Place the bones in a roasting pan. Drizzle the top of the bones. Lightly season with the S&P. Don’t line the pan. You want the sticky bits and caramelized marrow, fat and myoglobin in the pan to deglaze easily with the wine later. Get roasting. These should take about an hour to 1.5 hours total. Half-way through, when they start to look browned, flip them over and brush them SPARINGLY with the tomato paste. Don’t glop the stuff on. Add a little oil if the paste is really thick. Brush the flipped bones and return to roast.
STEP TWO: Prep your mirepoix. Roughly chop the veggies into ~2″ pieces. Drizzle and toss in oil. SEASON! If your oven allows for space, pop these in next to the bones at around the 40-45 minute mark and roast. Stir them around after about 15 minutes. They should be good to go once you see the tips of the onions getting dark. They don’t need to be fully cooked here. Actually, you don’t want them to be.
STEP THREE: Get a big ass stock pot. Don’t go cheap on these. A heavy-bottomed stock pot will last longer than you will, and also helps distribute heat evenly for long periods of time. You don’t need to break the bank, but don’t buy this at the dollar store. Fill it 3/4 the way with cold water. Add the bay leaf, espagnole (dry soup base will work in a pinch here) and thyme sprig. Toss in the peppercorns too. Slowly get this pot simmering.
The Longest Yard begins Here
Remove the bones and mirepoix from the oven. Gently drop them into your stock pot. Not because it’s integral to the flavour. It’s because if you dump them in, you’ll end up in the burn ward, ya big dummeh! lol. Make sure all the oils, fats and liquid go in as well. Once in, make sure this pot never gets to a rolling boil. You’re looking for a simmer. Light bubbles. Like, a “2” on your stove knob. DO NOT TURN THIS UP. EVER!
Let The Wine Do The Work!
Put your bone roasting pan on another stovetop burner and set it to medium heat. Pour in enough red wine to cover the bottom, get it simmering and start gently scraping the tasty bits off. The wine is you’re friend here. Once you get the pan deglazed, pour that goodness into the stock. Now, pour more wine in your glass. This is where science takes the wheel.
This is the long haul. Your pot is quietly simmering. You’re stirring it periodically. You’ve probably tasted it, right? Don’t lie. It tastes like someone put a steak under the hot water tap and served it to you as a soup. It’s pretty bland and actually kind of gross. That’s exactly what it should be right now. What the slow, immersive heat is about to do is treat every single item in that pot like the CRA treats you in an audit. It’s slowly breaking down everything’s will to stay together in that pot until it finally lets go of all of it’s little secrets.
A Little Light Food Science
From the connective tissues of tough muscle proteins to that beautiful bone marrow. Rendering the subcutaneous fats into liquid. The collagen is now dissolving like a sugar cube in a teacup. This all will only happen at LOW, CONSISTENT heat. When you submerse all of these things under high, aqueous heat, they bind up like Uncle Darrel when he eats too much cheese at the Christmas charcuterie board. You need to coax them into releasing their well-kept treasures. This is why low-and-slow methods of cooking such as gasp crock pots and BBQ smokers produce such tender goodies.
Pour that wine, put some tunes on and settle in. Your stock will be ready in about 8 hours.
During this time, if you wanna give it a stir, go for it. It won’t hurt. Maybe skim some foam/fat/crusty bits off the top. It’ll happen when you strain it, but if you’re a “food fiddler” like me, this is your time to shine. If you notice the water line getting below the solids, you need to add some COLD water. Don’t add hot. Just add cold and let the stove do the work.
So you’ve made it. You probably had a good nap, full sleep or you’re absolutely shit-faced from the wine. All completely acceptable in Ryan’s stock market! The important thing is you’re here. Using a slotted spoon, lift out as much as you can while not taking too much of the liquid. Once the big pieces are out, you’ll need a sieve. You know? The strainer that looks like a screen bowl? That one. If you don’t have one, cheesecloth will work. It’s a little tricky, but actually works better in the end. Or, use both for maximum strainage (that’s not a real word.)
You may need to run it through 6-7 times, or until you see very little sediment left getting caught in the strainer. You’ve now got a proper stock. If you are looking to stop here, that is cool. Use it as you see fit. Amazing for French Onion Soup at this point. If you’re interested in the best tasting thing on the planet, continue on.
From Stock To Star
Again, all this is going to take from you is patience. And a little more wine. Possibly some other veggies if you want to start layering flavours, but it’s not necessary. Just get the wine. Add about 1/2 cup to this and keep on simmering. You CAN increase the temp at this point if you want to about 3 or 4, but you need to keep an eye on it. Don’t let this get to a big, rolling boil. Simmer is key. You’re now dealing with a lot of concentrated elements that will burn and turn acrid if you go too hard.
Start simmering the stock. Once the alcohol of the wine has evaporated, remove half of the contents and set them aside. Keep the pot simmering.
Once the pot contents start to darken, add the reserved stock. Bring to a boil and half again. Keep doing this until it becomes a dark reddish-brown colour and viscous in form. Almost like the consistency of used motor oil. You’ll notice it starts to form a “shell” on the top. These are liquid collagens and fats trying to come back to form. Just stir them back in and they melt immediately. Once it starts doing that, you’re in demi-glace territory.
Let it Cool. Toss the Fat Cap Out
As this cools, it will begin to thicken to almost a pudding consistency and the fat will rise and solidify at the top. Get rid of that fat. You now have demi-glace. This stuff packs a very concentrated punch. Use it to taste in stir-fry, gravies, drizzle over tenderloins and roasts. Store it in an ice cube tray in the freezer (freeze it, then ziplock them) and use a cube whenever you need it.