Cheater’s Demi-Glace, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Awhile back I posted a bit of a cheater’s recipe for the Black Pelican’s Chicken Rosemary Brined Chicken. I saw it on Diner’s Drive Ins and Dives and just had to recreate it. When I made it, I simplified things just a bit; I used a boneless breast and served it with the Vegetable Saute. It was fantastic.

Demi Glace

The problem was, I couldn’t get my mind off of the way the Black Pelican served their dish. They laid down Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes, surrounded that with a pool of demi-glace and then topped it with the chicken and vegetable saute. Odd, I know. So odd, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I couldn’t stop thinking about Demi-Glace!

Demi-Glace is not by any means a frugal item. Real demi-glace requires bones and a lot of them! Pounds and pounds. And wine! And lots of time! And the store bought? Iffy and pricey. I remembered seeing this Cheater’s Demi-Glace by Cook’s Illustrated and had to give it a whirl.

Conclusion? The first time I made it, it was salty, even with no added salt. I blame the stock. I made it a second time with a low sodium stock and it was much improved. Damned good, I’d say. I’d take this any day over a store bought demi-glace, but have to admit it doesn’t outshine a real classically made Demi-Glace; really, how could it?

I’ll be keeping this on hand for when I do decide to serve the Rosemary Citrus Brined Chicken with my Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes (recipe coming sometime – see I’m crazy about Smoked Gouda, another pricey ingredient – you’ll see it in my savory Smoked Salmon Cheesecake, for one) or maybe I’ll serve it with another “fancy” meal. The demi-glace stores in the freezer for 6 months to a year.

I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. I noticed that when reduced to 1/2 cup, it was really way too strong, so I only reduced to about 3/4 cup. Since it was rich and syrupy then, I only used one package of gelatin.

Gibson is recovering from his surgeries this summer - remember grapes and dogs don't mix!
Gibson is recovering from his surgeries this summer!

One thing I noticed right off the bat was how flavorful the ground beef that was strained out of the sauce was! Talk about a heady, winey brew. The first time around I couldn’t do anything with it – and I was upset about the watse! The peppercorns almost melted into the ground beef and if you’ve ever bitten on a peppercorn? Well, it was unusable. I didn’t dare even give it to my Gibson – too highly spiced and grape products and dogs don’t mix.

The second time around I gathered the herbs and peppercorns into a bit of cheesecloth to contain them and used the ground beef later. I mixed the strongly flavoured ground beef with a little Greek yogurt (I didn’t happen to have sour cream in my fridge) to tone it down a bit and served it over noodles. It was kind of an unattractive but tasty combination of Beef Stroganoff meets Beef Bourguignon.

For the wine, use a good quality one; it doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for something that’s not too tannic. I’ve had good luck with Beaujolais (I know, a surprise!)

Citrus Rosemary Brined Chicken
Citrus Rosemary Brined Chicken

Cook's Illustrated Cheaters Demi-Glace, adapted

  • Servings: abt 3/4 cup
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 1 small onion, roughly, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 package unflavored powdered gelatin

Process onion, carrot, mushrooms, and garlic in food processor into 1/8-inch pieces, 10 to 12 one-second pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until simmering; add beef and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until beef is well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add vegetable mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until any released moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Add wine and bring to simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add beef broth, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns; bring to boil. Reduce heat and gently boil, occasionally scraping bottom and sides of pot, skimming fat from surface, until reduced to 2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan, pressing on solids with rubber spatula to extra as much liquid as possible (you should have about 1 cup stock). Sprinkle gelatin over stock and stir to dissolve. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring stock to boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 3/4 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

From the kitchen of


I’ll be posting this little recipe on two link parties; a link party is a weekly posting where bloggers from all over “bring” a dish. They’re great places to see a roundup of recipes from various bloggers all in one place.


I’m bringing this Demi-Glace to Fiesta Friday 90 put on by Angie of the Novice Gardener. The hosts this week are Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Lindy @ Lindy Mechefske.

I’ll also stop by Throwdown Thursday, Quinn of Dad What’s 4 Dinner and  Alli from Tornadough host this blogging extravaganza.

17 thoughts on “Cheater’s Demi-Glace, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated”

  1. I love the sound of your demi glace! I have never made it due to the reasons you listed, the amount of everything vbut it is delicious and a cheaters version sounds perfect! 🙂
    Am glad Gibson is looking so perky as well, pets can be such a worry! Have a great weekend 🙂

  2. Thank you so much. Believe it or not, I actually like the idea of making this without the beef. I have long felt too lazy to make demi-glace but there’s an AMAZING brussels sprouts and apple recipe in a book I have that asks for it, and once I added it and it was transcendent…

  3. The times that I have use Demi-Glace is when I make steak Diane. Yum but expensive and not made that often. I would by French Demi-Glace from our local Jungle Jim’s specialty food market, And yes 3 oz is very expensive. Great recipe and I hope you are bringing this tonight to Throwback Thursday #10. Pay attention to the second paragraph if you are interested.

    1. Quinn, thanks, and I did pay attention – I sent you an email, by the way. I hadn’t actually thought to bring this, as it is more utilitarian, but then I went a little wild and brought a bunch of stuff over to TT, including this. I was surprised how many comments I’ve gotten over it! 🙂

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