Chicken demi glace, the relatively unknown variation on a classic french sauce.
Until recently, I had only ever used a more traditional demi glace sauce, and even then it was rare. As it was something that I had never prepared before, I had to do a bit of research when I saw a recipe calling for chicken demi glace.
Before we try figure out what is chicken demi glace, lets take a look at where it came from. There’s a bit of differing information and varying ways to prepare a demi glace sauce, and I’ll try to cover that below.
The term ‘demi glace’ translates to english as ‘half glaze’. A true traditional demi glace sauce is a combination of a stock reduction and an espagnole sauce. The ‘half’ refers to the reduction process.
This is more than a gravy, a demi glace sauce packs a lot more flavor into a much smaller amount. In fact demi glace is so rich and dense that it gels completely at room temperature. It is very useful when preparing sauces, soups, or meats. A small amount goes a very long way!
The 3 traditional types of demi glace
Below we will take a look at a few popular ways a demi glace sauce can be prepared, starting with the most prominent from french cuisine. Then we can see how chicken demi glace differs from the original sauces.
Traditional Demi Glace according to Escoffier
Auguste Escoffier – reformer of classic French cuisine and strong influence of haute cuisine. Escoffier’s variant is very common today – it is probably even the most common variant of demi glace. In the English-speaking world in particular, there is practically only Escoffier’s method.
The method itself is quite simple: you put equal parts of dark stock and espagnole sauce in a saucepan, reduce the whole thing by half and the demi glace is ready. At least it sounds simple. There are the the individual components, stock and espagnole that have to be made, which does take a bit of time. In total, you would have a cooking time of approx. 8 hours.
Modern Double Stock
The second variant is the “modern” variant that cooks learn in German-speaking countries. Unfortunately, Escoffier’s culinary art has almost been forgotten in this country. Since hardly anyone knows the traditional Espagnole sauce and we don’t even count it as one of the basic sauces, it is obvious that it is not part of the demi glace either. Both the German and the Swiss standard teaching aids for aspiring chefs provide a different route to demi glace.
A completely normal dark veal stock is prepared to make this demi glace, with one crucial difference. Instead of pouring water on vegetables, bones and paring, it is filled up with a completely prepared stock. In addition, after passing through the demi glace, it is tied with roux and reduced.
The third and last variant is one I am not fond of, but it is prevalent today as an acceptable method. Ironically, it is the closest to the method used to get our chicken demi glace.
Again and again I have come across that demi glace is just a reduced stock. This was often justified with the name. “Demi” ultimately means “half”, but it seems to me that is a bit too easy. Apparently a lot of people had this opinion – including US celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, at least that’s how he recommends it is prepared to amateur cooks. It seems a little too basic to me, and personally I wouldn’t equate this variant with the other two.
And finally, What is Chicken Demi Glace?
Now that we have a grasp on the origins and methods behind popular demi glace sauce, we can can answer our question, and its a pretty simple answer. Although the third variation of the demi glace sauce, in my opinion, is a bit of a cop-out, its the basis for any poultry demi glace. Therefore, a chicken demi glace holds a simple truth to its name-sake, and really is just a reduced chicken stock sauce. Simple outline for a recipe below.
Chicken Demi Glace Preparation
- 2 lbs chicken bones
- 5 qt water
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
- 1 1/2 cups chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped leek
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
Place chicken bones in a large stock pot and cover with water.
Bring to a boil over high heat, simmer for 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients.
Return to a boil, reduce heat to low.
Simmer 1 to 2 hours.
Skim surface periodically.
Remove from heat and strain. Return only strained liquid stock to the stock pot.
Bring to a boil over high heat
Boil to reduce until stock reduced by 3/4
Season to taste with salt and pepper.