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Meat glaze is a thick syrup formed when cooks concentrate meat broth or stock by simmering the liquid for a few hours. Also known as glace de viande in French, it adds more flavor to a sauce or imparts a delicious shiny coat to finished dishes. Possessing a high salt content and gelatinous feel, this dark brown sauce gives body to stews and braises. It has a very long shelf life and can be frozen indefinitely or refrigerated for around three months. An economical way to store large amounts of stock for a long time, it can add flavor to any dish in a pinch.
Even a spoonful of glace de viande adds more richness to soups and other preparations. When buying meat glazes in stores, it is best to choose unsalted ones because salted versions push up the salt content of any preparation. It's quite easy to prepare at home, though a little time-consuming, and it involves reducing beef stock until it gains a syrup-like consistency. To make authentic meat glaze, home cooks concentrate the broth down to one thirtieth of its original volume — demi-glace goes to one fifteenth.
The ingredients needed for meat glaze are beef broth or stock; some recipes also add meat juices and drippings from steaks for a richer flavor. Beef is the most common meat used to make meat glaze, though any other type works well too. Cooks combine all the ingredients into a large pot and place it on the stove. Placing the pot slightly off center and keeping it on simmer makes bubbles rise to one side of the mixture. The broth simmers for a couple of hours, and the cook skims of the froth and fat frequently with a ladle.
When the mixture reduces to half its volume, the cook removes it from the heat and strains the liquid with a fine-mesh strainer. Then, the mixture goes back to the stove and reduces even further. The cook strains the liquid one more time when it reduces to half again and then continues concentrating the mixture on moderate heat for the final time. The meat glaze is ready when all the water in it has evaporated and it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon with a shiny layer.
At this stage, the glaze has a syrup-like consistency because of the heat. The cook removes the pan off the heat and transfers the meat glaze to plastic jars after it cools down. The glaze becomes springy and slightly solid when it is refrigerated. Cooks cut it into uniform chunks and use it instead of bouillon cubes to give more body to stock.