Escoffier’s Demi-Glace or Sauce Espagnole


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • yield:

    5 quarts

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Escoffier’s demi-glace is prepared by reducing sauce espagnole to a lightly syrupy consistency. Escoffier described demi-glace as sauce espagnole “taken to the extreme limit of perfection.” Sauce espagnole is simply reduced brown stock containing roux and fresh tomatoes or tomato purée. The tomatoes give a deeper color to the sauce. Because tomatoes are not always desirable in a brown sauce, they are listed as optional.

Notice that 12 quarts (12 liters) brown stock are used to prepare 5 quarts (5 liters) of demi-glace (a reduction of about two-thirds). This is made possible by the use of roux. This recipe uses approximately ounces (150 grams) of roux per quart (liter) of finished sauce, which sounds like a very large amount of roux. But much of the roux is eliminated by long, slow cooking and continuous skimming. A natural demi-glace, reduced with no thickener, will yield substantially less.

If you wish, eliminate the roux and thicken the sauce with a combination of lambda carrageenan and Ultra-Sperse 3. Use 15 grams of Ultra-Sperse 3 per quart (liter) and 1.4 grams lambda carrageenan per quart (liter) of sauce. Unlike roux, these hydrocolloid thickeners can be added near the end of cooking.


butter (optional) 11 oz 330 g
flour (optional) 1 cup plus 6 tbsp 170 g
brown stock (see note) 12 qt 12 L
lean, unsalted pork breast or blanched bacon 5 oz 150 g
carrots, 2 medium 8 oz 250 g
onion, 1 small 5 oz 150 g
thyme 1 small bunch 1 small bunch
bay leaves 2 2
white wine 6 tbsp 90 ml
tomato purée (optional) or fresh tomatoes, chopped (optional) 1 qt or 2 lb 1 L or 1 kg
ultra-sperse 3 (optional) 75 to 100 g
lambda carrageenan (optional) 6.5 g


  1. If you’re using a roux, prepare a brown roux with the butter and flour (see “roux”). If you’re not using roux, simply eliminate it and reduce the stock as described.
  2. Bring 8 quarts (8 liters) of the brown stock to a simmer. Whisk the brown roux into the stock. Make sure the roux is slightly warm before adding it to the stock; otherwise it will poach before it has a chance to dissolve into the stock and may form lumps. If it does form lumps, puree it with an immersion blender.
  3. Place the pot of hot stock containing the roux on the stove so that the flame is to one side of the bottom of the pot. (This causes the stock to simmer on one side only. The scum that floats to the top of the pot will therefore be forced to one side and will be easier to skim.) If using a flat-top range, wedge a spoon or wooden spatula under one side of the pot so there is more heat on one side. Skim the stock regularly. Be sure to keep the stock from boiling.
  4. Chop the pork breast or bacon, carrots, and onion into approximately ¼-inch (5 mm) cubes. Gently sweat the pork in a sauté pan until they start to render fat. Add the vegetables, thyme, and bay leaves to the pork. Gently cook until the vegetables soften. Pour off the excess fat, deglaze the pan with the white wine, and reduce the wine by half.
  5. Add the vegetable-pork mixture to the simmering stock. Continue to skim the stock to eliminate any fat released by the mixture.
  6. After about 1 hour of simmering the stock with the vegetables and pork, strain the mixture into a new pot and add 2 quarts (2 liters) more of the brown stock. Simmer for 2 hours more while skimming. (At this point, the stock may be strained and allowed to cool, so the process can be finished the next day if desired.)
  7. Add the final 2 quarts (2 liters) of the brown stock and, if desired, the tomato purée or the chopped fresh tomatoes. If you did not use roux and are using Ultra-Sperse 3 and lambda carrageenan, blend these, together, into 2 cups (500 milliliters) of the hot sauce 30 minutes before serving. Strain the thickened stock through a fine chinois into the rest of the simmering stock. If using roux, simmer the sauce for 30 minutes more, being careful to skim. If using the hydrocolloids, you can stop cooking and skimming as soon as the stock stops throwing off froth, usually in a manner of minutes.
  8. Strain the sauce through a coarse chinois lined with two thicknesses of cheesecloth.