If you’ve ever ventured into the world of Cajun cooking, or if you’ve been around Cajun cooking, then you’ve probably heard the term roux. This is a very basic ingredient in a variety of French, Creole and Cajun recipes. But what exactly is roux and what is its purpose?
A roux is a mixture of flour and fat. The fat is usually in the form of butter or oil. A roux is the basis for many Cajun dishes such as gumbo, etouffees and sauce piquantes. Now let’s learn a little more about the different types of roux.
There are basically three types of roux:
There is light roux or what is referred to as “blond” roux. There is medium roux, otherwise known as “peanut butter” colored roux. Finally, there is dark roux. The color of roux determines the taste of the roux.
Making good roux comes with practice. The preparation and the color of the roux is dependent upon the cooking time. If you are trying to achieve a “blond” roux, you need to cook your roux only four to five minutes. If you want to get the smoky flavor of a dark roux, you may have to cook it for twenty five minutes at a high heat or up to an hour at a low heat.
Now the hardest part of making roux is the fact that it must be stirred constantly. This means there is absolutely no stopping. You can’t answer the phone, go to the bathroom, chase your kids out of the cookie jar, etc. Constantly means no stopping for even a few seconds. If you don’t constantly stir the roux, it will burn.
You must also be very careful when stirring the roux. It is very hot. If you start to see black specks in your roux, then you have burned it. It must be thrown out and you need to start over. Making a roux takes a lot of patience and practice.
Roux with thicken your gumbo, sauces and etouffees and stews. If you want to achieve a roasted, nutty flavor to any of your Cajun recipes, you must learn to make a dark roux. But keep in mind that the dark roux has less thickening power.
So if you want to become a true Cajun or Creole cook, you must learn to make a good roux. This will become the base for many of your dishes. But as you can see, you need to be ready to devote a lot of time to your roux.