A proper vegetarian demi-glace is something that simply needs to be in your wheelhouse. It’s such a workhorse of a sauce and you don’t always have to serve it with vegetables.
I toyed with various recipes in the past but a couple of years ago I came across the Chef Steps approach to a vegan demi-glace or as they call it an “Umami Bomb”. It’s a wonderful recipe. Absolutely perfect. However, most people (me included) don’t always have those exact measures floating around in the refrigerator that the recipe calls for. My goal is to give a nod to Chef Steps but to also outline what makes a great vegan demi-glace and why I love it.
Vegan Demi-Glace Method
Again the Chef Steps recipe is truly “bomb” especially if you are aiming for consistency. Measuring out all your ingredients every time will get you there but that feels like a lot more work and not exactly practical for most home cooks. If you are looking for a demi-glace that can be repeatable or have never made one, then by all means aim toward the Chef Steps one first.
If you are like me, have plenty of veggie scraps in the fridge, and have made some demi-glaces before then this approach is for you. I also don’t find the need to put in a bunch of herbs or spices. Sorta overkill. This approach to a vegan demi-glace stands up on its own. It’ll be slightly thicker than water, a bit viscous, and incredibly flavorful. Put this in your wheelhouse!
Demi-glace Must Haves
- Onions. Very important. They offer an interesting sweetness to the mix.
- Garlic. A cornerstone for many sauces. Garlic adds it’s own salt and pungent flavor.
- Carrots. Another ingredient adding some nice sweetness to the final sauce.
- Beets. These red jewels add an earthy sweetness and a nice dark color.
- Mushrooms. Definitely a must-have. The mushroom beefs up the umami in the final sauce and gives it a really nice earthy/meaty taste.
- Tomatoes. Another great source of umami. It also brings some citric acid to the final sauce giving it balance with all the sweetness.
- Broccoli, kale, cabbage, or something dark, green, and leafy. When roasted these add a nice note of bitterness and sweetness.
How much of each? It’s up to you. Here is where you will be creative. The flavors will be inconsistent but if you are not cooking for a restaurant or a dinner party then inconsistency is fine. It allows you to experiment and use up your veggie scraps. Just use a bit of everything in equal amounts except for the garlic.
Everything should either be run through a mandoline or finely sliced. Why? You are exposing more surface area to the heat. Your veggies and fungus will break down and roast faster. Those natural sugars will caramelize properly as well.
- Put everything in a deep pan.
- Drizzle some oil on everything.
- Roast for about an hour at 350º turning and tossing every 15 min.
- Put some water on top. It should just barely cover what you have in there.
- Put it back in the oven for 45 min.
- Pull it out, strain through a sieve and mix a pinch of starch and salt.
- Mix it up. Taste it. Does it need a little more salt? Is it slightly thick? Does it need a tiny bit more starch?
You are done. If you have some xanthan gum use that instead of starch. It has no taste and will not compromise your flavors.