Roux 101

“First, you make a roux.”…

Cold weather calls for warm, full-bodied dishes like soup, stew, gumbo, and chowder. A well-made roux is the basis of many of these and learning how to create one is simpler than you might think.

A roux (pronounced ‘roo’) is a smooth paste made from equal parts of fat and flour that is added to gravies, soups, or sauces to make them thick, smooth, and full of flavor. Roux is a distinctive component of Creole/Cajun cuisine that was originally derived from the French Bechamel sauce.

Roux is an emulsion, which is a substance composed of things that normally don’t mix together. To make a roux, you heat flour and fat together in a skillet or saucepan while stirring continuously to create a stable emulsion.

Ingredients & Method

1 Part: All Purpose Flour
1 Part: Fat – Butter, Vegetable Oil, Lard, or Bacon Grease

Heat the fat on medium low in a heavy skillet. Stir in the flour and keep stirring until the roux reaches the desired color. Don’t stop stirring or the roux may burn. If it does burn, throw it out and start over.

The many colors of roux. Roux comes in a kaleidoscope of colors with names like blonde, honey, pecan, peanut butter, and chocolate. The darker the roux, the longer the cooking time. Roux falls into three general color categories – light, medium, and dark. The chart below lists cooking times and suggests recipe pairings for each category.

Click here for a printable pdf of the Roux 101 chart. To purchase the chart as a print please visit my Fine Art America store.

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Light Roux

Cooking Time: 2 – 10 minutes

Fat: Butter or Vegetable Oil

  • Biscuits and Gravy
  • Seafood/Fish or Vegetable Bisques
  • Potato or Crab Gratins

Medium Roux

Cooking Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Fat: Vegetable Oil

  • Chicken or Turkey Gumbos
  • Lentil Soups or Fish Chowders
  • Stews with Pork – Ham, Sausage, or Bacon

Dark Roux

Cooking Time: 2 – 10 minutes

Fat: Vegetable Oil, Lard, or Bacon Grease

Wild Game, Duck, or Beef Gumbos
Mushroom Stews
Soups or Entrees containing Offal

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Ready to get hands-on? Try this Duck, Chicken, and Andouille Sausage Gumbo that serves 4 – 6. Based on Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, this hearty and flavorful winter gumbo is thickened with a dark roux.

Ingredients:

1lb boneless duck breast fillets, cut into chunks
1lb boneless chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
12oz andouille sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
Ground black pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil + 2 tablespoons
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup onion, small dice
¾ cup celery, small dice
¾ cup bell peppers, small dice
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 (12oz) bottle of dark beer
32oz of chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
4- 5 teaspoons of your favorite Cajun seasoning
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Water, as needed

Season the duck and chicken with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Sear the meat until golden brown over high heat and remove from pot. Do not drain the pot.

Reduce the heat to medium. MAKE THE ROUX. Add the ¼ cup oil and the flour. Stir continuously until the roux turns a deep caramel color, adding water as needed. This may take 20 to 40 minutes. Do not stop stirring and do not let burn!

Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic to the roux and stir gently until the vegetables are wilted – approximately 4 – 6 minutes.

Add the beer and stir to incorporate. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Add the sausage, and cooked duck and chicken.

Stir well and cook over medium heat for approximately 1 hour, adding water as needed.

Serve with cooked white rice and chopped green onions.

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