Roux – For Thickening Sauces with Flour and Oil

Roux is a mainstay of Cajun and Creole cooking being used to flavour, thicken and colour many sauces and dishes, e.g. Gumbo. Traditionally roux is cooked very slowly on low heat, sometimes for hours, but cooking times can be reduced by using higher temperatures. To achieve success you need a long handled wooden spoon, a heavy black iron saucepan and constant attention.
 

Roux - For Thickening Sauces with Flour and Oil
Constant attention pays dividends for the long slow cooking necessary for this recipe.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup vegetable oil (e.g. Canola or Peanut oil)
  2. 2/3 cups plain flour (traditionally equal parts oil and flour by weight; but many authors vary it)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over a medium high heat until hot (~180° C). It is hot enough when a bit of flour scattered on top sizzles.
  2. Sprinkle 1/4 of the flour on top of the oil.
  3. Stir in with a long handled wooden spoon
  4. Mix the flour and oil into a smooth paste.
  5. Gradually mix in the remainder of the flour in the same way.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium
  7. Cook the roux, stirring constantly. The mix should be on a slow boil, with tiny bubbles constantly breaking. You have to cook it for at least 5 minutes, but a longer cooking time gives a stronger colour and flavour (see the table below).
Notes
  1. 1 tablespoon of roux will thicken 1 to 1 1/2 cups of liquid.
  2. Roux should be thick - about the texture of wet concrete or plaster of Paris. Add more oil or flour until it's right.
  3. If roux does burn it will be bitter and unusable - throw it away and start again. Burnt roux will have black dots in it.
  4. This recipe makes one cup - sufficient for the basis of a typical main course - but you can make larger quantities and store it; just place the Roux in a bowl, cover with cling film, with the cling film touching the surface, and place in the fridge.
Adapted from Kelly (1993) and Passmore (1992)
Adapted from Kelly (1993) and Passmore (1992)
Balagan Recipes http://balaganrecipes.info/

Shades of Roux

A longer cooking time gives a stronger colour and flavour, but means the resulting roux has less thickening power. If you take the risk and use a high heat then cooking times are considerably reduced. In this case stir fast and adjust the temperature by occasionally sliding the pan off the heat.

Name Colour Cooking Time (min) on Medium Heat Cooking Time (min) on High Heat Suitable for
Blonde or golden roux light golden 5-10 ~2 Gravies for pork chops or cream sauces for fish and vegetables
Peanut butter roux Deep golden brown 10-15   Chicken and seafood dishes
Brown roux Deep brown 20-30 ~5 Gumbos and stews
Black roux Black 60 20-25 Black roux is, apparently, favoured by Cajun cooks but is tricky to time right without burning the roux.

References

All Recipes: All About Roux
Kelly, D. (1993). Creole and Cajun Cooking. Australia: Ken Fin Books.
Passmore, J. (1992). Step-by-Step Cajun Cooking. Sydney: Murdoch Books.

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