What the hell is a Roux? And how do you make it? What is it actually used for? All questions I will answer here, my friends.
What is a “Roux” and what is the big hullabaloo?
A Roux is typically made up of about 6 parts flour and 4 parts fat. The combination of these two ingredients, in the correct ratio, creates a thickening agent that can be added to other recipes to help thicken. Additionally, depending upon a couple of variables such as how long you cook your Roux and what type of fat you use, the Roux will also modify the flavor of your recipe (cooking the flour gives it an almost nutty flavor). Adding Roux to your recipe will also change the color of your dish, but this also depends upon what color your Roux is (the longer you cook it, the darker it becomes). While other ingredients can be used to thicken, a Roux is the go-to in the culinary world because of the stability it brings to the dish as far as the thickness breaking down.
What type of flour and fat do I use?
For the flour, it seems all-purpose is the way to go. For fat, I would suggest butter or rendered chicken fat – you can also mix a Roux with about any sort of good drippings (revert back to Thanksgiving – this is what you would use to make homemade turkey gravy from the drippings of the turkey).
Are there different kinds of Roux?
Yes and no. No, because the ingredients, while they can differ as far as type of flour and kind of fat, are essentially the same, people do refer to different types of Roux as it relates to the color of the Roux. I am sure these names differ, depending upon who you ask, but generally there are 4 types of Roux: white, blond, brown, and dark. Again, the longer you cook the Roux, the darker it will get and the stronger the flavor will be.
Is there a special way I need to mix the Roux into my recipe?
YES, there is. Here are some rules of the Roux to follow:
Cool Roux + Hot Liquid
Cool Liquid + Hot Roux
Warm Roux + Warm Liquid
A good tip is to make a batch of Roux ahead of time and it can actually be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Then, when you need a thickening agent for your, most likely, hot simmering sauce, you can simply break off a chunk of your Roux and slowly add it into your recipe!
So how do I make Roux?
For my example, I simply used 4 Tablespoons of butter and 6 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Get your flour ready and pre-measured.
Melt the butter on medium-high heat.
Now, there seem to be two schools of thought here. One states that you need to dump the entirety of your flour in and whisk fiercely until mixed in well. The second states you should slowly mix in the flour, until you have reached your desired consistency. Frankly, I don’t align myself with either. I was raised to add it in slowly, but in this example I dumped it in all at once (partially because I had to take pictures….) and it turned out lovely. So, do your thing with the flour – fast or slow…
Whisk until combined.
The end result shouldn’t be too “wet” looking or too dry. If it is either on of these, compensate by adding the appropriate ingredient (if too wet, add a little bit more flour).
I did a simple white Roux. Once you are done, transfer it to a storage container and let cool or, if you have a cooler liquid to add it too, continue on with your recipe.
Voila! So, the next time you want to show off and make some homemade gravy or conjure up an amazing sauce – you have one the great culinary tools to let you do it! Let me know what you guys are cooking!
Also, FYI – I spent almost all of last weekend cooking and photographing….. I even checked one of my “wish-list” ingredients off of my list! You won’t want to miss it…. stay tuned!
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Melt butter in pan on medium-high heat
- Add flour (either all at once or slowly as you whisk) whisk quite vigorously until combined
- Once combined and starts to bubble, reduce heat
- Continue whisking, but at a slower pace
- Continue cooking until you can smell the nuttiness of the flour then cook about 1-2 min more or until you have reached your desired color.