There still remains in the culinary world a sauce base called
demi-glace. It is made from roasted veal bones, veggies, herbs
and water. Last time I made it, I started with 15 pounds of veal
bones (which TLW gave me as a Christmas present) and 11 quarts
of water. When I was through–some 18 hours later–I had 12 ounces
of rich, thick, intense savory/umami demi-glace. It takes time
to make it, so it is expensive. Demi-glace is the base needed
to make authentic Bordelaise, Sauce Roquefort, Sauce Robert, Orange
Sauce, Hunter Sauce, Mushroom Sauce and Sauce Poivrade. It also
takes skill and experience to use it in these sauces so that the
demi-glace doesn’t overwhelm everything else in the pot. So why
bother? Most chefs don’t.
You can buy demi-glace. William Sonoma sells it in a 10 oz jar
for about $30, and others package it in 2 oz pouches. It’s not
good but it’s usable. So I bought two pouches of the stuff at
a good butcher shop for about $10. I wanted to make Sauce Poivrade
for our smoked beef brisket.
Place eight diced medium size shallots in a saute pan. Add 1/4
C of fresh thyme leaves and 20 (or more) grinds of pepper corn
(adjust your grinder to course). Add some EVOO and sweat the shallots
to translucent. When done, transfer the sauteed mix to a good
sized non-reactive pot. Add: 33 oz of robust red wine and 2 oz
of red wine vinegar. Do not add salt! BTB and reduce this
mess by 2/3rds. (Use a wooden spoon handle as a dip stick when
you start and as you boil along merrily on high heat.) When reduced,
take the pot off heat and add about 3 oz of demi-glace and then
simmer for about 15 minutes. Do it again, as the sauce likely
remains too tart and without depth. It probably will need even
more demi-glace and simmering, but be careful. The demi-glace
should enrich the sauce giving it depth and complexity. The sauce
should have deep shallot and strong pepper notes–without a remarkable
taste of the demi-glace. It will take about 30 minutes for the
initial reduction and another 45 minutes to simmer the sauce to
where is taste right. Also taste for salt. It may need some.
When you think you are about there, puree the sauce in the pot
with a stick blender. Simmer a few more minutes, taste and set
aside. When ready to serve, reheat the sauce to simmer and then
“polish it” by stirring in 1 oz of butter and 2 oz of
Thus prepared (and keep it hot as you serve it), this sauce is
very intense (it ain’t your mom’s gravy). A generous drizzle on
the smoked beef is wonderful and worth the cost and effort. Good
rolls or tortillas are needed to sop up what’s left of the sauce
and to pre-clean your plate for the dish washer.
By the way: If you end up with less sauce than you need, add
a little salt free beef or chicken stock or water and BTB.
Do not add wine.
For leftover chopped or pulled brisket sandwiches: stir in a
little of the pepper sauce.