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Thursday, April 17, 2014


There are few short cuts when it comes to making a good demi glace. Although it's a simple sauce, it takes time. Sure, there are plenty of commercial products on the market to cut the time crunch. While some of the products are quite good, most of them are grainy salt bombs. In its most elemental form, demi glace is a concentrated brown sauce. Getting to the demi stage is a different matter all together. Classically, it's made by reducing veal stock with equal parts of Sauce Espagnole (a roux-thickened brown Mother Sauce).  Old school. The school of Escoffier. Nowadays, most modern kitchens bypass the roux-based Espagnole Sauce  by utilizing a straight up reduction for purity.  While demi glace specifically refers to veal based stocks, chicken and beef are often substituted. Pick the method. Pick the protein. It doesn't matter. Demi glace starts with stock. Bones are key.

Four Hills Farm Rack of Lamb with Mint Bordelaise.
I had some time to kill. Lots of time.
Armed with 5 pounds of meat-covered beef knuckle bones from Elmwood Stock Farm, I started my little journey. Typically, a combination of oxtails, shanks, necks, and knuckle bones would have been ideal. Gobs of surface areas exposed to heat allows optimum browning to occur. The deep browning process produces a deeper stock. Blah. Blah. Blah. That said,  I had knuckle bones. Big ones. Think huge beefy knee caps. If (emphasis on if) I had a butcher's bone saw withing arms reach, I supposed I could have broken down the knuckles into smaller pieces. Didn't happen.

After plopping the bones onto a sheet pan, I tossed them with canola oil and slid them into a 400 degree preheated oven to roast for 45 minutes. Midway through the browning process, I added chopped (unpeeled) onions, roughly chopped carrots, smashed garlic cloves, and chopped celery. When the vegetables, meat, and bones were deeply caramelized, I pulled them from the oven, transferred them to a stock pot, and added enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. I placed the messy sheet pan over a medium flame, deglazed the sticky bits with a splash of red wine, and scraped the fabulous goo into the stock pot. After adding fresh parsley stems, thyme, bay leaves, and black peppercorns to the mix, I brought the stock to a boil, reduced the heat, and let it simmer for a ridiculous 8 hours, skimming the scum along the way. Yep.

After several glasses of wine, supper, and a small nap, I strained the stock through a cheesecloth-lined chinois (excessive), placed the bowl of stock into an ice bath to cool, and slid it into the refrigerator to chill overnight.

Demi Glace/Borderlaise.
Bordelaise is simply a red wine-infused demi glace.
The next morning, I pulled the stock from the refrigerator and removed the layer of fat. I poured 2 cups of cabernet sauvignon into a stock pot, cranked the heat to high, brought the wine to a boil, turned the heat down to a simmer, and let the wine reduce by half before adding 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, and 8 cups of my reserved defatted beef stock. Going a bit new school without the roux-based Sauce Espagnole, I simmered the wine-infused stock for 4 1/2  hours. Crazy. When it reduced to 2 cups, I scattered a handful of fresh mint into the sauce to steep and let it simmer until it could coat the back of a spoon. After straining out the mint, I ladled the mint bordelaise into a small sauce pan and placed it over a very low flame.

The Extra Stuff.
During the down time, I baked  individual  potato gratins, pickled  a few radishes, and pureed a small bunch of boiled carrots with specks of citrusy sumac. Enough said. Garnish. Meat and three, so to speak.

I had a gorgeous 1 pound frenched 8 rib rack of lamb from Four Hills Farm in Slavisa, Kentucky. It was so petite and delicate, I certainly didn't want to muck it up. After bringing the lamb to room temperature, I brushed the lamb with olive oil before seasoning it with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I cranked a cast iron skillet to medium high heat (dry) and browned the lamb rack on all sides, 4 minutes per side. I pulled the rack from the skillet and brushed it a thin coating of the simmering bordelaise before rolling it through a combination of minced fresh parsley, fresh snipped chives, and minced fresh rosemary. I packed the herbs onto the  flesh, tossed the rack of lamb back into the cast iron skillet (fat side up), and roasted it at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reached 125 degrees. After about 15 minutes, I pulled the lamb from the oven, removed it to a cutting board, tented it with foil, and let it  rest for 15 minutes.

After slicing the lamb rack between the tiny rib bones, I nestled the chops over the potato gratins, puddled the mint bordelaise around the ribs and smeared the sumac-scented carrot puree to the side before finishing with Bourbon County micro greens and quick pickled radishes.

Here's the deal. The demi glace/bordelaise might have been a little excessive and troublesome. I didn't care in the least. Happily dogged by trouble and excess, I had a blast. And the result? Ridiculous. The bordelaise was both intense and light. The subtle hints of mint poked through the heavily concentrated  sauce and offset the slight gaminess of the tender lamb. While the soft sumac-spiked carrot puree added whispers of perky creaminess, the radishes and micro greens provided biting acidic crunch. Perfect. That said,  it was all about the succulent lamb and rich bordelaise. At some point, we tossed our utensils. The ribs begged to be manhandled. Finger food.  Swipe. Eat. Repeat.

We had bones.
Full circle.

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