What is a Roux and How to Make it
Understanding exactly how to make a roux is a really useful kitchen skill to develop. A roux is a base for producing excellent gravies, sauces and soups and is excellent at thickening dishes. A well-made roux will add a nutty finish to any recipe as it thickens your soups and stews. It is the ideal way to condense your recipes and stops your sauces from looking lumpy, so it is a good idea to learn how to make it.
What Is A Roux?
Different people pronounce the word differently, but how to pronounce roux is only a minor difficulty to get over – it rhymes with blue. A roux is a classic ingredient in French cuisine and turns up in eloquent restaurants all over the world. A roux is a blend of equal parts of fats and flour, usually butter is most commonly used. If you are going to create a roux, and it is cooked out for a long enough time, then it will give much flavor to your meal as it goes brown.
Types Of Roux
There are a number of types of roux which occur during the different stages of cooking it through. Each different type of roux will have its good and bad points and it is up to you with type you think is best for your dish. Match each type to the desired color and flavor you want for your dish.
- White roux – This is the initial stage reached when you are making a roux. You will know that you have achieved a white roux when your mix has become frothy. This is when the starches are still being cooked out and so will give a starchiness to your sauce. It is best with a white roux to cook and use it in your sauce just before you serve it which will get rid of any starchy flavor. A white roux is used most often in white sauces and where you are not looking to add any extra color.
- Blond roux – The next type of roux is a blond roux which develops after you have made a white roux. This is where caramelization starts to happen, and you will notice a dark color occurring. The roux becomes nutty in flavor and smells sharper. This is a good addition for darker soups as it can reveal an extra dimension to their flavor.
- Brown roux -The last type of roux is thickly caramelized after being cooked for a long time which give it its distinctive brownness. A brown roux will convey a nutty smell and flavor and is often put into brown gravies and sauces. When you are making a roux, the starches break down the longer you cook it for, so more roux cooking time will be necessary to accomplish a thick sauce.
How To Make A Roux
Learning how to make a good roux is not too difficult. Once you have learnt how to cook a roux you can then use it to enhance your gravies, sauces, and thicken up hearty soups swiftly.
- 1/4 cup of fat like butter
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- ¼ water or stock
Begin making your roux by melting butter in a pan and whisk in your flour slowly until the mixture has a smooth consistency. Let the mix bubble for a couple of minutes as you continue to stir to reduce the possibility of it having a floury taste. A darker roux needs to be cooked out for longer until it becomes dark in color.
As soon as you have cooked the mix to your taste, start adding liquid as you whisk. Decrease the heat to low and start adding your liquid and stir until smoothed out and totally free of lumps.
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Once you have made a sound roux base, you are able to add other ingredients to make your sauce including seasonings. This is the time to put your roux into recipes to assist in thickening them up.
If you are using cheese, just remember that it must not be boiled as it has a tendency to separate and break up. Instead remove the roux from the heat and then add in your cheese to your sauce while everything is still hot.
This simple roux recipe can work with around 3 cups of liquid to create a sauce or soup which has a medium consistency and feeds up to 2 people. Change the liquid and add more or less until you get the required consistency.
Recipes That Need A Roux
- Clam chowder – A traditional recipe which is simple to make at home
- Mac and cheese – This makes this pasta dish thick and creamy
- Beef Stroganoff – Give your meal a deep and gusty flavor
- Roasted corn soup – Any soup can be enhanced by using a well-made roux
- Casserole – You can add any ingredient to a casserole to make it richer, but nothing works better to add flavor then a roux
Top Tips For Making A Roux
- Never use metal pans to make a roux as it will make the mix turn light grey and you may even end up with a metallic taste.
- When making your roux ensure that you use heavy pots to avoid the burning of your sauces as you may need a long cooking time.
- Try not to take you roux to excessive temperatures as you cook it through. Roux ought to never get colder than room temperature to avoid the fat from becoming solidified. And very hot roux is hazardous and may cause burns if it splashes when you blend it with the rest of your ingredients. A stock must not be cold as the roux can then solidify as it also becomes cold and be tricky to whisk.
- Sidestep over thickening your recipe be remembering that a roux only reaches its full capacity when it reaches simmering point, so you only get results after it heats up.
Now you know what is a roux and how to make it, you can create beautiful tasting sauces and soups whenever you like.