Back in the distant past before Tony Bourdain was a TV personality jetting all over the world eating the more questionable parts of animals, I heard an NPR interview with him discussing Kitchen Confidential, the book that turned him into a TV personality who gets to jet all over the world and eat the more questionable parts of animals. He pontificated about kitchen knives, what pans you need, when to order fish and so on. Then he gave a radio recipe for something that is easy to do and makes people think you are brilliant: demi-glace.

Demi-glace is simple. You make beef stock. I don’t really know how to make beef stock. I usually just buy some random pieces of bone at the Whole Foods or the farmers market. Then you roast them in the oven for a while (maybe an hour?). Saute the standard stock veggies… some onions, some carrots, some celerey, some peppercorns, and a tiny bit of salt. Add the bones and enough water to cover. Cook this for several hours while you play Halo.

Now comes the good part. Take the stock you just made and drain it into another pot. To this pot add some sauteed shallots, a bit of pepper, some red wine. Tony also suggested thyme and peppercorns. Knock yourself out. Cook that over a low heat uncovered. Reduce, reduce, reduce. Play more Halo, but keep an eye on the stove. It just wants to sit there and bubble and get thicker. At some point, drain out the liquid to remove the shallots and reduce it some more. You know it’s right when it sticks to the spoon like a thin chocolate sauce or maple syrup.

If you start with a few quarts of beef stock you should end up with 6 to 8 ounces of the final product. Freeze this. You have now banked four or five opportunities for people to think you are brilliant.

The next time you make a steak, take the demi-glace out of the freezer and swish it around in a pan with some more shallots, water and red wine. Reduce it back to a nice thickness and put it on top of the steak. People will wonder where you trained as a cook.

Now any time you want a nice sauce and you don’t have time, just pull out your dark brown cube of goodness and you’ll see how all the time playing Halo pays off.