How to make roux; more arguments, accusations of blasphemy and down right name calling have been attributed to the proper way to make a roux. First off, what is a roux and why do we care? Gumbo is why, with roux you wouldn't have gumbo, well, maybe a few other reasons as well.
A roux is simply nothing more than heating oil and flour to make a thickener that also adds a layer of flavor. For classic French cuisine the roux will be a lighter color, a blonde. For Southern American cooking the roux will be darker, from a toasty brown to a dark chocolate color.
When used in Cajun or Creole cooking there are more opinions than cooks. The Cajuns use a lighter roux than the Creoles, what? it's the other way around. Irregardless of who uses what, we first have to make the roux.
I have for years cooked the oil and flour in a cast iron skillet stove top. This makes a wonderful roux that you have complete control over, start to finish. So when you burn it and start over you only have yourself to blame. This method requires constant supervision, continuous stirring and scraping the skillet with a wooden (my choice) paddle. Do not answer the door, do not answer the phone, let the children wreck havoc. The roux comes first.
I think there are five different ways to make a roux including the microwave. I have slid over into the oven camp. To me I have the same control as stove top, and even finish the roux on the stove top. Simply put equal amounts of oil and flour in a heavy pot, preferably cast iron and bake at 350 degrees.
Sounds easy and is easy. But a little more hands on than that. I heat the oil on medium high and slowly whisk the flour in so it’s silky smooth and slightly bubbling. I then move the roux to the oven at 350 degrees and set my timers for 15 minute intervals.
Every 15 minutes I check and whisk the mixture. The flour will always keep settling to the bottom.
I did 4 cups each oil and flour so I could freeze 1 cup in zip-locks, thus my roux took longer to get to my desired color. Once it did get to the milk chocolate color, I removed the mixture from the oven.
Now on the stove top, I finished my roux the old fashioned way, untill I reached the semi-sweet chocolate color. Actually I removed the roux from the heat before I got there because the hot pot will keep cooking the roux. Many a roux has been ruined in the last 5 minutes because the cook forgot it keeps cooking and can still burn even though the burner has been turned off.
Cooking this way gives you your hands and a burner for the next hour or so. Go ahead, chop those onions, celery and sweet peppers. Sauté them to perfection, you have time while the roux is in the oven.
Now I have my roux for tonight’s dinner as well as the next 3 dinners that require a good dark roux. And if you did the Trinity at the same time your next three meals will be a breeze.
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