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Saturday, 25 June 2011 00:09
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As I meet people from throughout the United States; and because of my accent, I invariably must answer the question “where are you from”. The conversation immediately goes to Cajun food and cooking. My surprise has


been the great number of people who are not familiar with the word roux; although TV chefs like Emeril Lagasse have provided great exposure to the term.LIGHT BROWN ROUX

A roux is simply a mixture of flour and fat, heated to eliminate the raw flour flavor. It is added to a stock or thinMEDIUM BROWN ROUX liquid in order to thicken and provide a fuller body (and sometimes taste) to the dish.

The fat part of a roux is usually vegetable oil, butter, lard, and sometimes olive oil. Most often the proportion of flour to fat is nearly the same; and the quantity of each depends upon the thickness desired. Butter, when used, has less toleranceDARK BROWN RED ROUX to higher temperatures and is most often used in a lighter roux, prepared for shorter time at lower temperatures. I know of some who will combine butter (for richness of flavor) with vegetable oil to increase that tolerance for higher heat and darker roux.

Roux colors vary from a light brown to medium reddish brown, to dark brown, and nearly black color (see colors in this posting). It is generally agreed that the darker the roux the more intense or rich the flavor. You will often find the very dark roux used in preparing a wild game gumbo or bisque. Some chefs prepare the dark roux with their gumbos and others a more medium brown color.

The technique of preparing a roux is really quite simple once you understand the important rule of consistent attention (stirring). I usuBLACK ROUXally employ a heavy-bottomed pot with maximum surface area; accelerating the browning process. Heavy black cast iron pots are the most traditional.

A medium high temperature is your best bet. Any higher, you increase the chance of burning and any lower, could take forever to reach the desired color. Experienced cooks can prepare a medium dark brown roux in less than 15 minutes and I’ve seen inexperienced individuals take 45 minutes or more for the identical color and quantity. It’s all in the technique.

Okay, here’s your technique. Place your pot over a medium high heat for at least a minute. This prevents unnecessary sticking. I first add the measured quantity of oil and then slowly whisk in the flour until the mixture is smooth and no flour clumps remain.

At this point I prefer switching my stirrer to a wooden, long-handed spatula. The flat bottom of this spoon allows for less effort in preventing the roux from remaining too long in any one spot; increasing the chance of burning.

You should remain in front of the process at all times. Taking a break to chop vegetables or answer a telephone call will surely result in a burned roux and trip to the garbage can. I do pause a few seconds (12-15) at a time to allow the roux to remain; giving an opportunity to brown a slightly darker shade. But 12-15 seconds should be your limit at this temperature. Note that if your roux begins to smoke excessively, remove it from the heat immediately and continue stirring. You may be able to save it before burning.

You might note at this point that your recipe will probably call for the addition of vegetables once the roux is complete; especially the traditional “trinity” (onions, bell pepper, and celery). Your planning must include having these chopped and ready prior to beginning the roux. A second note is that the temperature of the hot oil is very dangerous. Holding the pot in place with one protected hand and stirring with the other is important. You should also keep curious children and pets safely distanced from your preparations.

Once your roux has achieved its desired color, do not reduce the heat. You’ll now be adding the vegetables which need to cook. Their introduction will cool the roux’s temperature slightly. The temperature will gradually return while the vegetables wilt and your roux will probably darken even more depending how long you leave the vegetables.

At this point you simply follow your recipe. But if you are taking time to refer to instructions or prepare other ingredients, before adding liquid to the roux, reduce the heat or remove the pot from the burner to prevent burning.

Good luck, ma fran! May ah hope all yaw roux’s aw good ones!


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 16:31