Making a good Roux

Southern Kitchen Classics: Roux

Below is an excerpt from my cookbook, Grits to Guacamole and I offer it today in preparation for tomorrow’s Mardi Gras post. Okay, so now you know what to look forward from Cajun Chef Ryan and me. Over the years, I have read many varying ways on the right way to make a roux. Just as there are so many variations in gumbo (oops, I did it again) there are a few in making a roux. The basic method is always blending flour with some sort of fat. Animal lard, Crisco, cooking oil, butter – all will work just fine; it’s really up to you. Adding hot liquid or cold, again, it’s however you’ve been taught. This is the way I was taught, or self-taught from years of southern cooking. A roux base is in so many recipes; many times, you make it without even thinking about it being a roux. Let me know how you do it, how you make your roux.

 

Making a Good Roux
The base for good stews and gumbos

To make a pleasing roux, one that is not only embedded in our southern ways of cooking but also essential in many foods of the world, a heavy pot is indispensable. Using cast iron, of course, is the best. If using water for the liquid, bring it to a low simmer before adding it to the roux or if using a stock from cooked meats, be sure to keep it hot. Cold liquids will curdle the flour and separate it from the oil.

I believe it is important to use a little more oil than flour and a good ratio is two-third cups of all-purpose flour to three-fourth cups of oil and the extra oil helps in moving around the flour. This is ample for a stew using a large hen or a gumbo of two to three pounds of seafood. Now, mix the oil with the flour in a cold pot, turn the heat on medium and begin stirring. When it starts to bubble, turn the heat to medium-low. Use a flat tip wooden spoon or paddle to lift up the flour from the bottom of the pot. The roux must brown slowly. Stir, stir and stir some more.

Never cook the roux too fast, as the flour will not meld with the liquids properly and if burned, you will have to start over so do it correctly the first time. Cook the roux to desired color, light brown for a few dishes but most fare well with a rich, dark brown chocolate color. As the roux begins to darken, turn down the heat to low. The flour and oil must remain together.

Once the color is the way you want it, turn off the heat and stir a few minutes for it to cool down. The roux needs to rest a little before continuing with the cooking process. I like to add the chopped vegetables at this point in helping to lower the temperature. Always bring each ingredient up to the desired temperature before adding the next ingredient. This will keep the temperature from changing too drastically and will help ‘marry’ everything together.

See also the 3 stages of Roux and a recipe

 

11 thoughts on “Making a good Roux

  1. Scott K

    I love cooking with cast-iron as well, though I generally do my rouxs in much smaller batches, trying to keep fat levels down. Thanks for these tips.

    Reply
  2. Cocina Savant

    I had no idea about the resting either, I'll have to give that a try! I love the informative posts you offer to us, as well as the delicious recipes that make us miss the gulf coast 🙂

    Reply
  3. pegasuslegend

    wow this one is new for me sounds wonderful, so now another one of your recipes I have to try, I am going to be very busy trying to catch up and cook all these new additions to my collection awesome recipe! A marriage made in heaven!

    Reply
  4. Claudia

    Hmmm, I will add flour to cold broth, dissolve it and then heat it. But when I add it to fat – it's always warm… I worry about adding the flour to hot broth and then having cooked flour balls.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s