Ok, this will be the entry where I lose my recipe virginity. I know what the kids on the twitter and the interwebs want. They want recipes. They don't want to hear about my excursions to go pick cherries, eat crabs, or have photo shows; they want to make their own food. So in the spirit of giving, I will cave to your selfish demands.
This is going to be both simple and profound. It's simple to make and then it becomes profound when you get to know how to use it. It's also an obvious choice given the name of my blog/ business. It's called a roux (pronounced roo), and although it may look like a funny French word, it will change the way you cook. So what the hell is it?
Roux, when used properly, will thicken any liquid it is put into. When the liquid comes up to almost a boil the starch in the roux gelatinizes and thickens the liquid being used. It is super helpful for making gravies, sauces and for thickening soups and stews. It sounds like it would be really complicated right? Well, it's not.
If you have never made a roux before, fear not; you can't get any more simple that this:
1 part fat
1 part flour
• Melt fat in a saucepan.
• Whisk in flour until incorporated over medium heat.
• Cook (while stirring every few minutes) until it becomes the shade you are looking for (white, blond, brown, brick).
• Cool in saucepan for 5 minutes, and then pour the roux into a glass or metal container. (Be careful, this shit is like napalm at this point!)
• Let the roux cool until room temperature, then stick it in the fridge.
• Once solid, cut it into cubes and transfer into a plastic bag or plastic container for storage.
• Roux may also be frozen at this point.
One ounce of roux will thicken 8 ounces of liquid thoroughly.
That's it? Yep, that's it dear reader. But what's that you say? What kind of fat and flour? How much is one part? How will I know when its white, blond, or brick? Jesus, do I have to explain all of it for you?........ Yes, actually, yes I do. Let's begin.
For this recipe, when it says "fat" it can mean almost any fat you would like to use. Butter, clarified butter, lard, tallow (beef fat), and vegetable oil would all be acceptable. They all produce the same exact product, albeit with slightly different flavors, and work exactly the same when you use them. Btw, Crisco is not really a good product to use in a roux because it is engineered to melt at such a high temperature that when combined with a liquid and turned into a sauce it will leave a film in your mouth (yuck).
Flour is the easy part of the equation. Just use regular AP (all purpose) or bread flour. Cake flour or pastry flour can be used in a pinch, but do you really keep cake or pastry flour around your kitchen? That's what I thought.
The one part to one part ratio is a standard sliding ratio that can be sized up or down depending on how much roux you want to make. The easiest way to express this would be to take a pound of butter and mix it with a pound of flour (which is what I used in the pictures) and this would produce 2 pounds of roux and you would be set for a long time. You can half that amount by halving the weights of the ingredients. You could also make 33.6547 times more and just adjusted the weights accordingly (if you appreciate odd proportions). Just make sure you are using equal parts (by weight) of fat and flour and you won't go wrong.
Now that you have mixed your melted fat and flour, you need to cook it. Depending on what shade of roux you are looking for, you can be cooking for 5 minutes up to an hour. Generally, you will be using a white roux for 95% of the recipes you use. Unless you plan on making gumbo all of the time, you won't really need to make too many dark rouxs. Luckily, the white roux is the one that only takes 5 minutes to make. You want to cook your roux for at least five minutes to cook the raw flour taste out of the roux. If you don't do this, the sauce or stew you are making with this undercooked roux will have a bit of a doughy taste. Nobody wants to get into some mac and cheese and have it taste like bread dough.
I realize that I have made things seem a little more complicated than they need to be, but I want you to be able and nerd out on someone who would have any questions about making roux. And now that you are a bad ass roux making mother fucker it's time to make something with it. Alas, this entry is only about making roux. That being said, future recipes will prominently feature the mighty roux. Mac and cheese (not that blue box shit), gravies of all kind, and thick soups will all have roux as the ingredient that makes them what they are. For now, just practice your roux making abilities (using water is a cheap way to practice) and get ready for god-like thickening power.