Today I’m going to talk about an old school cooking technique. Making a roux is one of the foundations of cooking. However, making a roux the old fashion way takes a lot of time, and can be a real pain. You take equal parts flour and oil and basically fry the flour until it reaches the proper color for whatever dish you are cooking. Nothing smells better than a roux cooking. If done right, it fills your house with a nutty aroma.
Roux’s come in many levels of “doneness.”Is that even a word? They range from blonde roux’s that are only cooked enough to get the doughy flavor out of the flour, all the way to the darkest roux’s used to make a classic beef stew or my favorite, a dark, rich gumbo.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with an old school roux. If you get the heat too high, you can burn the flour. Even when you are making a blonde roux. If the roux smells burnt at all, it’s ruined. You will have to trash it and start over.
OK. Hopefully, I haven’t scared you away from trying to start a dish with a real roux. If done properly, it adds a richness to a dish.
The technique I’m going to show you today takes a little time, but it will save you time when you need to make a quick gravy or stew, or gumbo. The lovely Amy and I make this in 3 to 4 cup batches so we are never without.
Start by heating your oven to 400 degrees.
If you have a big enough cast iron skillet, use it. If you don’t, use a cookie sheet or tray. As you can see, Amy and I use a cookie pan similar to this.
Add 2 to 3 cups of all purpose flour. Spread it out as even as you can.
Bake uncovered for anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, stirring every 15 minutes. This will make a dark mahogany roux. It takes an hour and a half in my oven. Once it’s done, it will look about like dry peanut butter. Don’t worry about the color. When added to your dish it will darken up.
If you want a blonde roux, take it out after about 30 minutes. If you want a medium dark roux, that takes about an hour in my oven. Use your best judgement depending on your oven.
I was in a hurry and didn’t take pictures of blonde and medium, but I did get some pictures of the finished product. One of these days I will get the hang of this whole blogging thing.
It will darken up a little when cooking so take that into consideration when you are testing for doneness. Here is what mine looked like when I took it out of the oven after an hour and a half. Remember, if at any point in the cooking process, you smell burnt flour, you will have to throw it away and start over. I highly recommend keeping a close eye on your roux the first time you cook it in your oven. Especially after the hour mark. Your oven might only take an hour to get to the dark stage.
One way to test for doneness is to take a little dry roux and mix it with a little water. It will look about like what it will look like in your finished dish.
Remember, it will darken up a little when you are cooking with it. You know you haven’t burned it by smell. If there is a nice nutty smell when you mix it with water, you know you nailed it.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to cooking with a dry roux. One is to add the dry roux near the end of cooking your dish. The second one and the one I use is to add the roux near the beginning of your dish. Depending on what I’m cooking, I will add the dry roux after I have sauteed any vegetables in my dish before I add any liquid. If I am making a gumbo or soup, using dry roux will save almost an hour of cooking time.
Stay tuned for a few great dishes that I will teach you using your new found dry roux expertise. And remember, If you like what you are reading and want to be kept in the loop when I have new content coming out, sigh up for my mailing list. I only send out a couple emails a week, whenever I have a new post. In addition to being kept in the loop, if you sign up, I will send you 10 delicious recipes.
Until next time, remember food is love…