Making a roux; many recipes from
South Louisiana start with "first you make a roux". You've heard
that before I'm sure. The experienced Cajun cook can make a roux without even
thinking about it. The newcomer to Cajun cookery may not be so fortunate,
so, I'll explain, to the best of my ability, how to do it. Keep in
mind that this is "my" way, not necessarily the right or wrong way. Rouxs
are cooked in several fashions and most work just fine. My way is the
"old fashioned" way.
Before we get started you need to decide how much roux
you need for a particular dish. This depends on a few things, one; do you
like a thick or thin gravy, and two; how much are you cooking. I read
somewhere a while back where a guy made a 4 cup of flour roux and was asking why
the dish tasted so funny when he and girlfriend ate their meal. He cooked
enough roux to make eight gallons of gumbo and most likely had a gallon of
water in it. Hey, I've got to give it to him for trying!
For a gumbo I use about a 1/4 to 1/3 cup of flour per
gallon of gumbo. That's just a general rule of thumb I use to get the consistency
I like. Some people like thick gumbo and some like thin. If in doubt,
cook more roux than you think you need and take some out before you start putting the other stuff
together. You can then add more roux if you want a thicker consistency.
If you are a beginner at rouxs start out with a half
flour, half oil mixture. The more oil you use the less likely it will burn
too fast. As you get better at it you can use less oil. Add the oil and
flour to the pot and set the fire on medium. My best rouxs were made in a
cast iron pot or cast iron skillet. Using a spatula, stir the roux
scraping the entire bottom of the pot every time. Using a spatula allows
you to move all of the mixture around and you don't have to make more than
a few passes to do it. Stir the mixture every 15 seconds or so. The roux
will bubble at first then will get smooth as it cooks. WARNING.. Don't be tempted
to walk away and do something else, if the roux burns at any point during
the process, it is no good. Once the roux has turned a medium brown lower
the fire just a little. Keep stirring as you were before. You will notice
with each stirring the roux gets a tiny bit more brown.
Click here to see the
progressive colors of the roux as it cooks. Use the BACK button to return
The roux you just saw was a "dark" roux, there
are dishes that call for a "blond" roux that is naturally not as
As the roux turns browner lower the fire a little.
Burning a roux after you've stood there stirring for an hour could have
detrimental effects on the your dogs' rear end!
If you start to see smoke turn the fire as low as you
can get it, or, turn it off to let it cool a little while. When smoke
appears the oil has reached its "smoke
point". The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to
smoke (simple huh?). It is preferable that this doesn't happen because the oil
will give off a foul taste if it goes beyond the smoke point. Different
oils have different smoke points, for instance, peanut oil has a higher
smoke point than vegetable oil. That means you can get peanut oil hotter
than vegetable oil before it starts smoking.
When the roux is done add vegetables as the recipe calls for. When it's
time to add the liquid turn the fire up a little and add liquid about 1/4 cup at a
time, and, use warm liquid if possible. Let it bubble before adding more. After adding about two cups of
liquid let it come to a boil then add the remaining liquid. You want the
roux to mix with the water and too much of a temperature change too fast
will often make it separate. That's when you wind up with a layer of brown
grease floating on top of your gumbo.
The dish you are cooking must come to a boil for the roux to
reach its' full thickening potential.
Roux's can be made with butter and bacon grease also. Each has it's
taste benefits. Pay close attention to the type of roux oil that a recipe uses,
the specific type required could be for a reason.
Pre-Made Jar roux is also available but be sure you know that
when you use it use a low fire so you don't burn it. Even if you
dump it in a pot of boiling water it will still fall to the bottom
in clumps and burn. It will eventually dissolve so keep stirring.
Here's how you can use powdered roux!