Mastering A Basic Roux

Mastering A Basic Roux
Despite what people say, mastering a roux is really no more difficult than preparing simple gravies or basic white sauces. Gravies, white sauces, and roux all begin with an equal amount of fat and flour, cooked over low heat and they all are used to as thickeners for sauces, soups, and stews.

There are at least four classic types of roux. The one most popular in Cajun cooking, the chocolatey brown or mahogany roux, has a unique, nutty flavor due to the longer cooking time. As a thickening agent for gumbos and stews, the chocolate brown roux adds a richness that can’t be duplicated. Medium brown roux are perfect in gravies and hearty, thick soups. Peanut butter roux is a good all purpose roux. Lasty is the classic white or blond roux that is used in bisques and delicate soups and pan sauces as well as macaroni and cheese and scalloped potatoes.

To make a roux, use a cast-iron or enameled cast-iron skillet or pot. Never use a non-stick pan as the roux won’t brown properly. Roux needs to brown to lose its ‘flour’ taste and to develop a complex richness that simply can't be duplicated.

This recipe calls for vegetable or olive oil. Medium brown roux can also be made with butter or meat drippings (pork or beef). For an authentic dark roux, lard can be substituted for the vegetable oil.

Once cooled, roux can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It will separate. To use, bring to room temperature and stir.

The recipe and method is the same for all roux. The difference is in the length of time the roux is browned on the stove. For best results, use a cast-iron skillet or pan.

Makes 1 cup (enough to thicken 8 servings of gumbo)

1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil (or other fat)
1/2 cup flour

Combine the oil and the flour in a cast-iron pan over medium heat. Stir the mixture slowly – and constantly. The mixture will begin to foam after about 5 minutes. Keep stirring. As the roux cooks, the color will darken and the flour will have a nice nutty aroma.

Cook's Notes:

Cook a white or blond roux for 10 – 15 minutes
Cook a medium brown roux for 30 – 35 minutes
And for a real treat, cook the roux for 45 minutes for a true Cajun Roux.

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