Roux is made by cooking equal parts flour and fat (butter, oil or any other fat) together to form a paste. The roux is cooked by stirring continuously until the raw flavour of the flour cooks out and it is darkened to the colour you desire.
A combination of fat and flour, roux (pronounced “roo”) is a classic thickening agent that is used to thicken soups, sauces, gravies and stews.
Typically, roux is made from equal parts (measured in weight and not volume) of fat such as butter, oil, meat drippings or shortening and flour. Both ingredients are heated together in a pan to form a paste and then cooked until it thins and darkens.
An important building block of many recipes, a good roux imparts a nice silky-smooth texture and thickness to your favourite dishes. The colour of the roux depends on how long you cook it and what you want to use it for.
How To Make A Roux
There are 4 types of roux, which depend on the time it is cooked for. White roux is when you cook the roux for the shortest time and dark brown roux is when you cook it the longest.
- White Roux: This is the most commonly used type of roux and takes only around 4-5 minutes to make. White roux is used to thicken chowders, milk-based sauces and soups.
- Blonde Roux: Blonde roux has a light brown colour and a nuttier flavour than the white roux. It takes around 10 minutes to make. A good, general-purpose roux, blonde roux is commonly used to thicken stocks and make thick soups, smooth sauces and gravies.
- Brown Roux: Usually cooked for around 20 to 30 minutes brown roux can be light brown to copper or light chocolate coloured. Although brown roux is not as thick as the lighter-coloured roux, it offers a richer and nuttier flavour and is best for making brown sauces and slightly thick soups and stews.
- Dark Roux: Perfect for making dishes like gumbo and jambalaya, dark roux has a thinner consistency and a rich dark colour of dark chocolate or black coffee. It takes around 30 to 45 minutes to make a dark roux.
Making roux is extremely simple and, in this post, I have described the step-by-step process of how to make it.
How To Make A Roux
- Large skillet regular or cast iron
- Measuring spoons
- Wooden spoon
- ½ cup All-purpose flour
- ½ cup Unsalted butter
- Melt the unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
- When the butter has melted, add the all-purpose flour. Keep stirring using a wooden spoon for around 30 seconds to a minute until all the butter has been absorbed by the flour.
- Stirring continuously, keep cooking the mixture until it is slightly thickened and smooth and small bubbles start to form. Make sure that there is no dry unincorporated flour in the mixture. If there are any lumps of flour remaining, break them up with a spoon.
- Cook the mixture for around 5 minutes and you will have white roux that you can use in light sauces and chowder. If you want blonde roux, keep cooking the roux over medium-low heat for around 10 until it turns a nice pale golden colour.
- For a brown roux continue cooking the mixture while stirring continuously for around 20 minutes and around 40 minutes for a dark roux.
- When making a roux, make sure to use low to medium-low heat and keep stirring the mixture continuously. Otherwise, it will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. If by any chance the roux does get burnt, don’t use it because burnt roux will give your sauce, gravy, soup or dish that you add the roux into an unpleasant and acrid taste. I find that using a figure 8 pattern while stirring the roux allows you to get the entire bottom of the pan uniformly.
- I find that using neutral oils like peanut oil or canola oil, clarified butter, lard or bacon fat is the best to make roux because these have higher smoke points that can help to prevent the roux from burning.
- When I make a large batch of roux that I want to store, I usually use clarified butter because when I store the roux in the fridge, the butter will harden and trap the flour in suspension, which will help to prevent any lumps when I add the roux into a sauce, gravy or soup.
How To Make Quick Roux?
To make a quick roux, simply whisk a cup of cooking oil and a cup of flour together in a microwave-safe bowl until you get a smooth mixture without any lumps.
Place the bowl with the mixture and microwave on high for around 4 to 5 minutes. While the roux is cooking, keep an eye on it. You will get a blonde roux in 5 minutes.
What Are the 3 Sauces That Need A Roux to Start?
In traditional French cuisine, roux is a key ingredient in 3 of the 5 basic sauces known as “mother sauces” including béchamel, Espagnole and velouté.
Is It Better To Use Butter Or Oil To Make Roux?
The type of fat you use to make roux depends on your preference and the flavour you want.
If you want to make a sauce that is dairy heavy such as bechamel sauce, then butter is a preferred choice of fat. Most French roux also use butter. On the other hand, Cajun and Creole dishes use roux made with oil.
In conclusion, making roux is a simple yet essential step in elevating your cooking game.
Whether you're using it to create a rich and velvety velouté sauce, a comforting béchamel or a robust gumbo, the key to success is to take your time, pay attention to the colour, and never rush the process.
With a little patience and practice, you'll be able to master the art of roux making and elevate your dishes to new heights.