Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Demi Glace

I am, how you say, French. Well, half french. And that half likes to make unnecessarily complicated french food. It's the best kind of french food. I have a huge Larousse Gastronomique that I read most Saturday mornings over coffee. Aren't the photos of the British, French, and American cow dissections neat? Love.

As a french, I look at all the typical Alaskan bounty (Salmon, Halibut, Venison, Berries) and try and frenchify it. Talking roast venison a la bonne femme. Or Salmon amandine. Easy peasy. Next on my list is making Demi Glace out of the long deer bones (legs).

Demi Glace is a thick reduction of meat broth typically made with beef or veal. Like meat jello/jelly. It used to be thickened with roux but nouvelle cuisine reduces the broth to a syrupy glaze. I made my first stab at broth over the weekend not wanting to do up Demi Glace because it needs to simmer for 12-24 hours. Had to get the broth right first. (Also, wild game has a tendency to go gamy and really stink up the whole house. Gotta prevent that)

So, early Sunday morning me and the husband tried to saw apart the two leg bones with: a pruning saw, a pixie knife, and finally the saw attachment on a leatherman. Guess who's getting a bone saw soon! With the bones all cut up, they and some carrots, an onion, bay leaf, parsley, and some thyme went in the crock pot to simmer away. (Next batch will use a leek and the bouquet garni will include leek greens. No leeks in Sitka last weekend.) It happily simmered while I unhappily insulated the ceiling next door. Also, I merrily skimmed the globules of fat. urk.

About half way through the simmering, I added a small can of tomato paste. Supposedly this "intensifies the flavors and color." I'm not 100% on the paste. The house smelled heavenly, like hearty broth and not nasty roadkill (as some wild game stews I've been exposed to). I guess I could have strained and reduced the broth right then, but I really wanted to eat it. Eating things are the real test of their goodness.

Next morning I threw some beans and diced venison shanks in the broth and let it cook all day. (Yes, crock pots feel as silly as hot dish but I don't really want to burn down my incomplete house yet.) After adding a little salt, this stew/soup was amazing. Way more complex than the usual crock pottery we eat. The soup was hearty without feeling like a slug of food was sitting in your gullet. No one flavor overpowered any other flavor, they were all pretty nicely balanced.

Now we just have to get another deer so I can make real Demi Glace.


  1. I'm half french, kind of. My paternal grandparents were french but both of their families moved to the US when they were children. So my grandmother didn't cook a whole lot of "french" food. I wish she did. I would have loved to learn.

  2. My grandmother was an amazing cook (what I could remember anyway). She passed things to my dad who passed them to me--mostly simple provincial style food.

    Also, Hello!

  3. Very, very jealous of the following:
    - your free access to affordable venison
    - the impending bone-saw
    - did I mention the venison? Jealous. Very. Can you get bear as well? I had some bear sausages last year and they were so good that I still get all warm and dopey when I think about them.

  4. Tina--we are thinking about getting a bear next year. My husband may trade work on a house for a hunting trip. Excited.