Cookbook | Ingredients | Cooking techniques | Sauces

Roux is a basic cooked mixture of varying ratios of flour and fat (usually butter), useful for making sauces, and for thickening soups or gravies. The benefits of using a roux include: It does not have to be cooked very long to remove a floury taste, clumps of flour are removed, and it creates unique flavors. It can be cooked to different degrees (from white to brown) depending upon the intended use, and a darker roux (one that has been cooked longer) will also be thicker and have more flavor, but will have less thickening power.

Technique edit

To make a basic roux, butter (solid or clarified) is melted in a saucepan. An equal weight of wheat flour is then whisked in. The mixture is then cooked for a variable amount of time to remove the raw flour taste and, sometimes, to add color. For a white roux, cook for a few minutes to remove the raw flavor. For a blond roux, cooking must cease as soon as the color of the roux begins to change, and before the appearance of any progressive coloring whatsoever. Brown roux is ready when it has acquired a fine, light brown color and nutty odor, characteristic of baked flour. A good roux will have a slight shine to it, and neither the texture nor the taste of the flour will be apparent.

Depending upon how you plan to use your roux, you may need to add the sauce's other ingredients before the roux is fully cooked.

When making a dark roux, switching from butter to an oil with a high smoke point (such as soybean oil or Canola oil) will allow for a higher cooking temperature, decreasing cooking time. Keep in mind that different fats will give the roux a somewhat different taste.

It is very important that brown roux should not be cooked too rapidly. When cooking takes place with a very high heat in the beginning, the starch gets burned within its shrivelled cells. The binding principle is thus destroyed, and double or triple the quantity of roux becomes necessary in order to obtain the required consistency. But this excess of roux in the sauce chokes it up without binding it, and prevents it from clearing. At the same time, the cellulose and the burnt starch lend a bitterness to the sauce of which no subsequent treatment can rid it.[1]

Use edit

A roux is typically used as a thickener, often for soups and sauces. In these cases, liquid is gradually whisked into the roux. Don't go the other way, adding the roux to the liquid, as you will get lumps. Once enough liquid has been added to the roux, you can safely add it back into another liquid.

References edit

  1. Auguste Escoffier (1907), Le Guide culinaire