Friday, January 30, 2009

Roux Trials

Ever since going gluten-free in October, I've been wondering how to pull off completing my New Orleans recipe project, when so many of our local dishes are roux based and contain wheat flour. The vegan thing is one challenge, but vegan and gluten free? Besides wanting to eat these dishes myself, I figure writing gluten-free alternatives will also give these recipes a broader audience appeal. And no, don't cross your fingers for a gluten-free king cake, it's not gonna happen anytime soon.*

Yesterday, I did some roux experimenting to compare and contrast between different flours. Even though I know that coagulated goo on a spoon does not make the most inspiring pictures, I found the venture both extremely interesting and fun. Best of all, it gave me a pretty good idea how I can incorporate non-wheat flours into some of these traditional roux based meals.

I thought some of you might be interested in the results, too. I made four different rouxs, each using one tablespoon of flour, 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/2 cup hot water. I cooked them all the same, too--the oil and flour were browned for one minute over medium high heat with constant whisking (blonde roux), then 1/2 cup hot water was blended in and cooked another minute until thick. The only variable was the type of flour. As you can see in the photos below, I used unbleached white wheat flour, oat flour, besan (chickpea or gram flour) and a mix containing equal amounts of both oat flour and besan.
Look at that chawed up spoon! The garbage disposal got it...
One thing I don't understand about gluten sensitivity is that most grains contain gluten, but that it's really only the gluten from wheat, barley and rye that makes people sick. Although oats contain gluten, the only concern about eating them is whether they've been contaminated with wheat or barley gluten during processing. That seems really nonsensical to me, can anyone explain this further?
As you can see from the photos, the wheat roux is the thickest, followed somewhat closely by oat, then by the besan which was fairly thin. I also noticed that the besan browned really fast, while the oat flour was slow to color. I'm pretty happy with the combination of the two, and I think I'll try to use this moving forward. It seems to me, if this combination is doubled in comparison to wheat, it should yield similar results.

*I still have room for recipe testers, so if you have knowledge and interest about Creole/Cajun or Louisiana recipes let me know!



  1. Hey there, i'm a huge fan of cajun cooking, what are the other requisites for testing??
    my email -

  2. Kittee, your dedication is outstanding.

  3. I think coagulated goo on a spoon makes for a lovely composition.

  4. I would LOVE to be your GF vegan recipe tester! Just say the word, sister.

  5. kittee,
    nice experiments. Very interesting. It looks to me (visually) like the the oat-chickpea combo yeilded the most wheat-like thickness. I didn't realize that other grains also had gluten, but that it was a kind of gluten that didn't bother people. Will wonders never cease.

  6. It's really exciting to see gluten free alts for rouxs. I'm personally not gluten-free, but it'll be a great addition for the upcoming book!

  7. i can test! i dont know anything about louisiana cooking but i can follow directions. cleobat

  8. I can test - I too don't know mcuh about cajun food - but I am very interested and it would be good to see how I go without much knowledge of cajun cooking.

    The roux trial is awesome - thanks for sharing.

  9. If anyone can get this figured out, it's you. While I don't have to eat GF, I think it's probably good for everyone to limit their gluten a little.

  10. do you really need more testers? why didn't you tell me that?!? i will test if you want me to :)

  11. Oh, I am an expert in these gluten matters and will be happy to help you make sense of it.

    First, the.. fo.. it.. ik.. glu.. ur.. p.. ka.. gluten. Plus, if you.. sh.. le.. ock.. foo.. flour, then.. bi.. ye.. tee.. oats. There, that pretty much explains it all.

    Did you get all that? Sorry, I was going through a tunnel.

  12. Nice roux variations!

    I'd love to test for you.

  13. I know little about Cajun cooking but would love to know more so I'd love to do some testing. I'm a seasoned tester now after Joni's burgers, Isa's Brunch book and am now working on Joni and Celine's. But I can easily squeeze in another!

  14. So many roux, so little time. Spicy kittee!

  15. I love that you've invented gluten-free roux, you creole goddess, you.

  16. The results with the oat flour are very interesting. I've been confused about the gluten thing too. Since I work in food it's hard to help people with gluten sensitivities and know that only some gluten are commonly reactive, confusing!

  17. Almost all oats are contaminated with gluten - it's just the nature of the way they are grown, stored, and processed. For people who are really sensitive (like me) almost all oats are out. Which is horrible and sad, but better than getting sick.

    I used to be able to find Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats, but no such luck lately. I was feeling very flush a while back and ordered from this site

    which was wonderful, but expensive.

    And yes...this is all very confusing.

  18. hey kittee,

    i love those barbie cakes. it reminds me of all the wacky cakes my mom would decorate for extra money. she made a wedding cake for her friends, decorated it with suckers and put SUCKERS in caps on the very top of the cake. what a classy lady, my mom.

    ah, but digress. thanks for explaining the roux thang. i had to ask bianca what roux was the other day. i'm such a silly yankee.

    btw, i made the pumpkin cheezcake squares this week from papa tofu and they were awesome. i'll be posting an entry in the next week about them.

  19. Interesting. Since reading a lot of vegan blogs, I've noticed a trend for GF and Vegan to be either in the same neighborhood or house. Not sure why but makes me wonder if I'm missing out! Definitely sounds challenging.

  20. I'm totally interested in vegan Cajun/Creole cooking! And I love your gluten-free roux trials. I've recently discovered the joy of roux-based sauces (I'm slightly obsessed with etouffee!). I'm looking for your vegan king cake recipe right now...

  21. Hey kittee!!

    Long time no talk!! Think of you a lot, though!

    What is this about your last Mardi Gras as a NOLA resident?!? Are you finally living the dream and going to Portland?

    I'd love to test for your new cookbook. I'll tell you a secret, though. I've had VwaV and many other vegan cookbooks for YEARS and have never used them..I don't know how to cook!! **gasp**

    I'll be moving in the next month[not far, just to Lake Chuck], so I'm going to have to learn. I just want to be able to do your recipes justice.

    I can also ask my father and grandmother for any other NOLA recipes they can share--warning: they would need a LOT of veganing up!

    Hope all is well!!!**hugs**

  22. Thanks for the great experiment. You saved me from having to try it. I just found out I am allergic to wheat as well as eggs and dairy. Oh my, what will I eat now? No more oyster po-boys just on the half shell I guess. At least now I know I can make a good roux for my tomato gravy and etoufee. Yum.


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