stock question for the old timer Escoffier afficionados

Joined Aug 15, 2004
Escoffier said take 1 qt brown sauce and 1 qt brown stock, reduce it to .9 qt and add some nice sherry (depending on which version of his book you have) and there's your demi-glace.

To make the brown sauce, start with clarified butter, brown your mirepoix add flour to form the roux, brown it nicely, add 6 qts of brown stock, a sachet d'spice, reduce to 4 qts. Ok, so then I add 4 qts of brown stock and reduce to 3.6 qts of demi-glace.

Is there any reason that anyone knows that I can't just make the mirepoix/roux but add 10 qts of stock and reduce it all down to 3.6 qts instead of doing it in steps making the brown sauce first, then adding the stock and reducing further to get the demi-glace?

Not interested in hearing about the modern way of just reducing stock to demi-glace consistency. Wanna stay true to Escoffier, just wondering if there's anything to be gained by doing the brown sauce first then adding more stock and reducing to get the demi-glace, as opposed to adding all the stock to the browned mirepoix/roux and reducing.

The only down side that I can think of might be that I wouldn't get a nice distribution of the flour to thicken the brown sauce if I added all the stock at once, and/or maybe it would be harder to skim the butter and scum off the top if its too diluted with 10 qts of stock instead of 6 qts reduced to 4 qts of brown sauce and then adding the remaining 4 qts of stock.

Joined Aug 21, 2004
I would only be guessing at the answer, but I would think that you could do it by the second method and it would be close to the desired result, but I also feel that it would not quite be the same because the roux would never be able to achieve the proper thickening in twice as much liquid, even though reducing down to predetermined amount.

If you feel ambitious, how about doing side by side batches by the two different methods and let us know the results? That is what I usually do when I want to unequivocally know the answer to my own satisfaction.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
You're more of an Escoffier guy than I am, and my Escoffier book is on loan, but ...

IIRC, Escoffier's demi is a combination of espagnole and stock. The difference between going from espagnole plus stock, and starting with stock and doing a straight reduction is partly practical, for instance how and how long the vegetables and tomato paste are cooked, the appropriate ratios to make a roux work, and what you do and don't need to keep around a (restaurant) kitchen; and partly theoretical, an espagnole is a mother, but a demi is a daughter.

Your underlying questions seems to be whether blending a sauce which is mostly a stock reduction with fresh stock and reducing some more would be different than a straight reduction to the same level of concentration. In other words, does the blend work something like the solera process with sherry?

Restricted to stock alone, if it does, it's very subtle. On the other hand, with the tomato paste, the mirepoix and all, the traditonal method does seem to make something of a difference in taste (smoother, more married), texture (smoother, less floury), and appearance (clearer). Not a huge difference, but a difference. Of course, the only way to tell for sure is to try it both ways.

If you want to try an analgous test (easier than making two demi-glace); try to make a bordelaise base as a straight reduction of stock and wine, and make a real one with a (straight stock) demi (what Julia Child called a "demi-demi" -- really just an unifinished glace de viande, like the one you asked me not to mention), fresh stock and wine. Both will be good, but the differences will be noticeable -- and have to do entirely with the taste of the wine. If you happen to have the two demi-glace around, step up to a demi based on an espagnole (aha! Friends again, I hope), and the difference will be more noticeable still.

BTW, I love the way you love Escoffier. You and the few like you make him live.

Added on edit: More specifically, you may be one of the few people I know of, who actually likes espagnole as a stand-alone. So making a pot on the way to your demi won't be too much of a hardship.

Joined Aug 15, 2004
Response to A: I love the fact that you seem to be one of the few people who understands that demi is NOT a mother sauce. (I'm gonna surely get flamed for raising that observation again ! ):

Response to B: Thanks! It is nice to feel appreciated.

Response to C: Not sure where that came from. I don't remember ever using an Espagnole sauce except in order to use it (per Escoffier) to add stock to to obtain the demi-glace! I do kind of remember, maybe it was Kuan, that an Espagnole sauce is just a glorified gravy. Anyway, in some ways, it isn't a whole lot more than a nice pan sauce, and the time element makes me make pan sauces a lot! Don't always bother adding in mirepoix, but lots of scallions or red onion, the grease from the steaks or roasts, and some flour and a dash of my favorite cooking white wine Dry Zack (aged 15 years from Spain), and then some demi. Bottle seems big, but the contents seem to bely (sic? belie) the size of the bottle. It sure tastes good in cooking, although, isn't it funny, I can't drink the stuff straight?! :)

I think based on the responses that I probably wasn't too far off in thinking that proportions, browning the mirepoix, chinois-ing the brown sauce, then adding the stock really is the right-est way to do it, or surely Escoffier would have just added the stock to the browned mirepoix/roux in the first place.

Thanks for everyone's feedback.

Joined Jul 31, 2000

One of my favorite reductions to make is a fond de veau jus lie. It is time consuming, but for me it's well worth it.

In it's most basic form, it is a veal stock made with a veal stock (instead of cold water) very slowly simmered as you would a basic brown stock. Strained and then reduced by half. The jus lie indicates it's thickened with a starch, but I find non is needed if you start with fore and hind quarter bones.One of the reasons I prefer this method is it very clean and glassy because no roux is used. I use this to fortify many of my brown sauce reductions. Very concentrated.
Joined Aug 15, 2004
Thanks Cape Chef. That sounds very good. Kind of a perfection of using a remoulade to make the veal stock instead of starting with cold water. But I never was too turned on by the thought of making a 2nd stock (the remoulade) from the remnants of the 1st stock. Kind of analogous to taking a 1st cold pressing of the olives and then taking the 2nd pressing and mixing with the 1st. Just seemed to me like contaminating the 1st stock.

But your technique sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing it with me!


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