Repeat after me: I MAKE MY OWN ROUX.
Feels good, don’t it?!
I’ve hear so many people say, “I can’t make that recipe because I can’t make a roux”. That makes me so sad. However, I get it! Because I, too, was beyond intimidated by making a roux. I’d heard so many horror stories, and I just made the assumption that I wasn’t capable. Well, one day, my mom sat me down and said “it’s time. I’m going to teach you to make a roux”. That’s right, my mom taught me! My dad was not always the best instructor for beginners. My mom, however, possesses great patience and is a great teacher for someone just starting out. That day, she told me the idea behind a roux, the process involved with making a roux, and she even told me that she, one of the most seasoned chefs I know, has had to throw roux in the trash because she ruined it. This let me know that it happens, and it’s ok. However, it also made me want to face the challenge. I wanted to learn.
Since that day, I, too, have had to throw roux in the trash. I made the mistake once of adding the holy trinity to the roux right in the beginning of cooking the roux, as opposed to mixing it in towards the end, once the roux had darkened. This made for a white, lumpy, disgusting pot of mush. After throwing away that roux, I ordered pizza and went about my life. But, I tried again soon after.
What is a roux? Well, a roux is a thickening agent used in cooking. The French use butter as their form of fat for the roux. However, it is typically custom in Cajun culture to use vegetable oil as the fat for the roux, especially when making a dark roux, which is what is used for gumbo. It is customary to Cajun dishes to use a dark roux for dishes because of the intense flavor it adds to the dish. When making a roux, it is known to use equal parts flour and oil. It is important to use all-purpose flour, as well as a wooden spoon. There are many places today where you can buy a “roux spoon”. I recently purchased one at the Tabasco plant. A roux spoon has a flat edge, allowing you to stir the roux, and to scrape the pan evenly, preventing sticking.
There are several stages of color when cooking a roux. For this recipe, we want a rich, dark roux, a little darker than caramel, but not quite the color of chocolate. Below, I attached pictures of the color progression of my roux.
I used a large cast iron pot for this roux, so I decided to make a large amount of roux. I used 4 cups of oil, and 4 cups of flour. I like to make a large amount of roux, because I am always afraid to run out of roux when I am combining it with my stock for my gumbo. Also, it’s great to have extra because you can store it in your freezer for next time!
Here we go!
Music Pairing: Jazz music
Wine pairing: Bad news. Don’t drink and roux! You must stay focused! But have a cold Michelob Ultra ready to drink once you’re done!
All-purpose flour (remember equal parts oil and flour. Make as much as you want. I used 4 cups of each)
1 large bell pepper
3 celery stalks (I like using 1 celery stalk with the leafy greens)
- Chop all produce. Set aside, together, in a bowl.
- Pour oil into a large pot (I use either cast iron or Magnalite). Put heat up to medium high.
- Once oil has been on medium high for about 5-7 minutes, test the oil by sprinkling a bit of flour into oil. If the oil is ready, the flour will sizzle, and you know you’re ready to add the rest of your flour.
- Gradually add flour! Do not dump all the flour in at once. I keep the bag of flour next to me, and gradually sprinkle in the flour, using a 1 cup measuring spoon. As you add flour, continuously stir. DON’T STOP STIRRING! That’s the key to making sure you don’t burn your roux.
- As you stir, be sure to break up clumps of flour.
- Once all flour is added, continue to stir. This is when you will see the roux in all its beautiful color stages.
- Your roux will go from light, to medium, to dark. Keep stirring until it becomes a dark caramel color.
- Once roux is a dark caramel color, add produce. Like the flour, DON’T ADD ALL PRODUCE AT ONCE! The produce will drop the temperature of the roux, and it’s important to make sure your roux stays hot. So, gradually add produce, while continually stirring. This is when your roux will become fragrant. It’s my favorite smell in the universe.
- Your roux will sizzle when you add the produce. Keep stirring!
- You’ll know your roux is done once the produce is soft, and the roux is darker, not quite the color of chocolate. At this point, you can turn off the heat. But, continue to stir! The pot is still hot.
- Set roux aside and let it cool. Once cooled, transfer to a food storage container and put it in the fridge.
- Throughout the entire roux process, please note:
- If your roux starts to steam a little too much, turn the fire down a tad.
- Don’t stop stirring!
- If you feel your roux is too soupy, gradually add in sprinkles of flour and stir.
Below I added pictures of the color progression of my roux.
Good luck! Put on some music, and stand over that pot and stir. Making your own roux is so rewarding!
Most importantly HAVE FUN!
I’m looking forward to tomorrow. All our hard work will pay off!
See you then!