Patience Rewarded

This weekend I decided it would be fun to practice some classic French cookery.  For me that meant making some traditional small sauces to dress up a perfectly cooked steak — a mission made all the more urgent by a freakishly awesome deal I got on some filets mignons at the grand opening of a new store here in town.  For steak, unless you’re making a béarnaise, the next likely candidate will be something from the Espagnole sauce family, and I thought a Bordelaise sounded like a splendid choice.

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For the home cook, however, that presents a minor challenge — the need to make demi-glace.  Yes, I know Knorr’s makes a passable dry demi mix, and there are other purveyors of pre-made but very expensive sauces, but where is the fun in that?  So, with resolute will and a big stock pot, I set about the all-day process of making a brown sauce (about two hours) and then a demi-glace (nearly four hours of reducing).

Ah, but it was well worth the effort.  That rich, delicious and unique sauce base was transformed into a lip-smacking Bordelaise in no time flat.  Here’s a quick recipe:

  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 oz. minced shallot
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked pepper
  • 2 cups demi-glace
  • 1 oz. whole butter

Combine the wine, shallot, bay, thyme and pepper in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until reduced by three-quarters.  Stir in the demi-glace and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until the desired thickness is reached.  Strain the sauce and then swirl in the butter for that lovely creamy finish.  Spoon some of that luscious brown goodness over your beautifully seared mid-rare filet, and munch it down with a big happy grin on your face.  That’s what we did — grins all around.  And tomorrow night?  More filets with a Poivrade sauce — damn, but I love grand opening specials!  Until then:  Eat well, my friends!

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