Sunday, July 20, 2008

How to Roux


I know it's really hot right now and you're not thinking about gumbo. But, if you were in NOLA you might just. We eat gumbo all year round down here, in between bites of ice cold snowballs. What's a hot kitchen when it's in the mid 90s outside? Wuss. Anyway, here are some instructions I put together for making New Orleans style roux (roo), just in case.

Makes a squirt more than 1 1/2 cups dark roux.

1 cup vegetable oil (canola in this example)
1 cup unbleached white flour
  • If you want to make authentic New Orleans cuisine, you'll have to learn how to make a dark brown roux. No ifs, ands or buts, and absolutely no tan roux allowed, we're not making New Farm mac 'n' yeast cheese, kids. I know it's a little scary, what with the boiling roux being so freakin' stick-to-y'r-skin hot and all. But, if you pay close attention, you'll be sure to get good results.
  • Please make sure you've no distractions and all pets and kids are tucked securely away, these instructions take 10-13 minutes of your absolute undivided attention. Hot roux quickly becomes a molten sticky paste and can produce severe burns. Do not attempt this in the nude.
  • You must use a whisk when making a roux, and be sure to choose a pan in which the whisk can reach all surfaces. If you use a pan that is angled in a way where the bottom and sides form a rounded edge that is hard to get the whisk to scrape, your roux will burn. You won't have the time to get a spoon in there to loosen it up.
  • Personally, I think it's OK to have A FEW dark specks in the roux, but, if at any time your roux is full of lots of black and dark bits, then it's burnt, and you'll need to try, try again.
  1. In a medium well chosen saucepan (see above) combine the flour and oil and whisk to blend well.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and whisk continually at regular intervals. I find that whisking ten seconds on, ten seconds off works for the first four minutes. Then whisk ten seconds on, five seconds off until you can begin to smell the roux (at about five minutes).
  3. Once you can begin to smell the roux, turn the heat down a bit, but keep it just above medium heat. Keep whisking. At around six minutes, begin to whisk constantly. At around seven minutes, the roux will begin to deepen. Turn the heat down to medium and don't stop whisking, even for a second. The roux will change from an amber colored mass to a brown chocolate or coffee color in about two minutes. You'll also notice that the texture of the roux will suddenly thicken and get fluffy. If your roux is browning too quickly, remove the pan from the heat, but don't stop whisking. Once the roux is a deep chocolate brown, remove from heat, but continue to whisk constantly until the roux has stopped cooking. This could take an additional 2-3 minutes. At this point, many recipes will say to add onions or some trinity (chopped onions, peppers and celery), because their addition helps to arrest the browning of the roux and cools things down quickly.

The finished roux on the right is a bit flashed out in the photo, it should be less red and more chocolate/coffee colored.

I am slowly developing an arsenal of vegan New Orleans style recipes and am looking for culinary saboteurs to help me test and evaluate them. If you read through this entire post with unabated relish and are dying for more, I need your help. Let me know if you're interested by posting here, or sending an email to kittee68 at yahoo dot com.

35 comments:

  1. true about the heat...it can't REALLY get any hotter! (perhaps i speak too soon)

    thanks for the lesson!
    xo.

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  2. Can this same roux recipe, just not cooked as long, be used for recipes that call for a lighter colored roux? This is a wonderful tutorial; thank you!

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  3. vegyogini,
    this is a basic roux recipe. some recipes call for different amounts of flour/oil, but the manner in which they're made is the same. some folks prefer a roux that has a bit more fat than flour, some prefer a healthier roux (ha), that is a bit more flour than water. at any rate, i believe the answer to your question is yes.

    xo
    kittee

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  4. also, vegyogini-
    if you're making a light colored roux, you can't get away with any dark specks, the flavor is too subtle and it'll taste burnt.

    ox
    kittee

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  5. awesome instructions...
    do recipes for gumbo usually call for this whole recipe of roux, or can you put it in the fridge if you only use half?
    what other recipes do you like to use this dark roux for?

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  6. I just read that entire post with unabated relish, and am dying for more! :)

    poopiebitch at hotmail dot com.

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  7. hi kittee, i made your banana cake from your zine today and it turned out amazing! i don't know if it's your recipe or my fantastic cooking skillz, but i'd say a bit of both! xo from australia, where it's cold as all hell!

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  8. hey caroline,
    you can definitely save the roux if you don't sue all. different recipes call for a different amount. for instance the gumbo recipe i linked to calls for 1/3 cup each of flour and oil. so you can just follow these directions but use the other amounts, or you could put in about 1/2 cup of the already prepared roux. i used these amounts for the tutorial, that is a lot of roux to add to one dish. other new orleans dishes that use rouxs beyond gumbo are etouffe and basic stew.

    philippa,
    did you mean the banana bread?? i don't think my banana cake is in Papa Tofu...but glad you liked it!

    xo
    kittee

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  9. thanks for the rock'n roux recipe & instructions, Kittee! i've never attempted a roux before - but you better believe i'm excited to try it out! mmmmmmmmmmmmm! oh, and i'd love to help test out some new orleans style goodness: hellokittygrrl@gmail.com

    superw00t! :D

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  10. It is going to be 103 here today. Yes, that is not a typo. Gumbo sounds delicious right now. Do you have a gumbo recipe you could send me? Being a southern gal, I love gumbo.

    xoxo
    Krys

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  11. thanks for the answer kittee!
    i checked the gumbo link and DAMN that looks good. it's hot as chocolate fudge balls here in florida too but that won't keep me from making the recipe. and it'll give me another reason to try julie's sausage recipe.
    how many servings do you think that gumbo recipe makes? i bet it freezes well...

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  12. caroline,
    the gumbo makes 6 generous servings.

    xo
    kittee

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  13. I'd be willing to try out some of your recipes! The gumbo looks out of this world delicious. I am about to move and might not have a "real" kitchen for 4-6 weeks though. I'll be in bf's mom's kitchen for a while, I could probably make it work.

    I'm no roux expert, so this was good to read. I'm still a little intimidated by the concept...I made gravy yesterday and the gravy took OVER AN HOUR to thicken, and I figure it must be from not developing the roux enough before adding liquids?

    Oh, e-mail is jamboxrock@hotmail.com.

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  14. I would love to test some NOLA goodness for you. The Roux recipe/tutorial is an awesome tease of things to come. I will email you my email.
    Joan

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  15. Hi Kittee! I would love to help you test recipes, if you still need recruits. (destiny dot kottre at gmail dot com)

    P.S. Thanks for the "nude cooking" warning. I've baked cookies au natural & ended up with a cookie sheet burn on my thigh. I guess that's what aprons are for!

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  16. Thank you for your answers and tips, Kittee!

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  17. Hey Kittee,
    i've never used a whisk to make roux before, and am gonna try it out next time to see what difference it makes. i had a favorite roux spoon- just a flat, slightly diagonal tipped, wooden spoon. it was seasoned well, and super glidy in the pot and easy to clean. after about 10 years of heavy use, the handle finally split. i still used it for a while, but not so much for roux, since my hand would get too close to the hot magic. now i use a wooden spatula that doesn't work as well, but gets the job done. one day i'll find another perfect roux paddle...

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  18. Hi Kittee,

    I'd like to help with recipes! I made the gumbo when you first posted it and loved it!

    renae at ineluctable dot org

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  19. I would love to test some recipes!

    jennycestcake@gmail.com

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  20. You are a freaking culinary goddess! I can't wait to try this- heat or no heat- though I will follow your advice and put some clothes on. I would love to be a tester for your creations! I do live in France (most of the time- I'm in the US for a few weeks vacation), so getting some things like black-eyed peas or collards would be out, but hot damn how fun!

    fishbowlmusings (at) gmail (dot) com

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  21. I am a total virgin to N'owlins cooking. That said, this Yankee would be more than happy to try a recipe or two for y'all.

    The only roux I know is the basic French version....this post fascinated me.

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  22. I agree with you on the heat thing. It's 90-something outside in Memphis and that's not gonna stop me from cooking good food. If you can't take the heat, get out the kitchen...right?

    BTW, I've never made real gumbo...but now I want to try!

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  23. What perfect timing for me to stumble across this post. I was planning to make some gumbo tonight and this will help with the success of my roux!

    I'd love to be a tester for you. I don't have much experience with New Orleans food... but I'm eager to learn. Let me know if you still need any testers.

    ameyfm (at) yahoo.com

    Amey

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  24. Hello again, Kittee! I just stopped by to let you know I've nominated you for the Brillant Weblog Award. The details are on my blog...

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  25. hey there ladyfriend,

    i've got pretty serious restrictions on what i can put in my face, but i'd still absolutely love to help with this endeavour (actually, i feel weird saying "helping", as i'd feel damn lucky to participate).

    let me know! heat-and-humidity makes me crave spice, so no worries there.

    - lauren.

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  26. I passed on the Brillante Weblog Award to you - hit up my blog for details!

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  27. THANK you for the tutorial. I've been dying to make good gumbo soon. I would love love love to test out your recipes. Feel free to e-mail me at jes@sopobikes.org!

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  28. That is amazing - I tried making dirty rice once, many moons ago and my roux looked nothing like that, so thanks for the heads-up! I thought it was chocolate ganache at first glance!!
    I'd love to give some NOLA recipes a shot - wrongasaurus at yahoo dot com.

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  29. I want to master roux! I'm loving New Orleans-style food lately- we just used the field peas you sent us tonight! <3 <3

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  30. Kittee...
    I've nominated you for a Brilliante Blog Award, for being so awesome! Check out my blog for details. Then copy the award, link to me as the person who nominated you...and then nominate 7 of YOUR favorite blogs!

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  31. Might be too late, but I'd love to test recipes as well. We loved your pretzels!

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  32. I'll help test recipes - lived in New Orleans for 4 years (ate fish but mostly vegetarian), am now totally vegan.

    'cept no legumes because I'm allergic (sadly, I learned to make the best red beans EVER because I could never figure out why my stomach got upset).

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