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my rue over roux


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18 replies to this topic

#1 hotle

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 06:07 AM

i love gumbo. whenever i'm in new orleans, i'm in heaven. when i see it on a menu in a cajun restaurant, i almost always order it. whenever i try to make it, it sucks!

i'm pretty sure this sad state of affairs comes down to my inability to make a good roux. what can be so hard, you ask? all the cajun cookbooks and recipies i've read go something like this: put flour and fat into a pan and cook it until it's brown....or black.....or blonde. now, i'm not the most-manually-dextrous of cooks, but even I can do that! or can i?

every time i use a roux for a gumbo, it comes out bitter and nasty. i've used bacon fat and olive oil and vegetable oil. still comes out bitter and nasty. i've tried prudhomme's high heat technique, and long and slow (two-beer, as i've heard emeril call it) cooking. yup, bitter and nasty.

i suppose it could also be the combination and proportion of the 'trinity', as well, so any suggestions there would be great, too.

this seems to be so simple, but perhaps is one of those things that seems easy, yet takes a lot of time to master. can anyone suggest to me what i might be doing wrong?

thanks!

matt

#2 elyse

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 12:52 PM

Are you saying your roux comes out bitter and nasty, or your gumbo?

#3 hotle

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 01:15 PM

the gumbo itself. i'm assuming, just 'cause i know the other ingredients that go in, and how each tastes, that it's the roux. could be wrong, i suppose, but the taste is almost rancid.

matt

#4 elyse

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 01:19 PM

I'm sorry I have no advice. My roux's never been bitter. I can't even imagine it. Good luck!

#5 fifi

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 02:54 PM

Sounds like you are burning it.

The first requirement is a heavy pot. I use a large LeCreuset for my gumbo but seasoned cast iron also works well. I have also used Calphalon. If you don't have a heavy pot, don't even try. You will burn it.

For God's sake DON'T use olive oil. If you are not using lard (most don't anymore) peanut oil is the best choice. Any other neutral vegetable oil is ok. Use equal volume proportions of oil and general purpose flour. This gives you a "loose" mixture that is easy to keep moving. (Are you using something other than all purpose flour? Check this. If you have something weird lurking in your cupboard like self rising flour that could be a problem. A friend of mine called me about his foul smelling roux and wondered why it didn't smell deliciously toasty like mine. He was using whole wheat flour and olive oil to make it "healthier". :laugh: )

A beginner should stick with the Emeril 2 beer method... medium heat, longer time.

Keep stirring. That means do not stop, ever. I use a wooden spatula type thing that allows me to sweep the bottom of the pan thoroughly.

For a dark "South of I-10" gumbo, I go all the way to the reddish Hershey bar color. This means that you need to have your trinity (chopped onion, celery, bell pepper in a typically 2/1/1 ratio, seasoned with salt and cayenne) at the ready to dump into the roux. This "searing" of the trinity adds a flavor note and stops the roux from further browning... burning.

I suspect that you have not hit all of the points above... heavy pot, continuous stirring (burning of bits in the odd corner), or simple oil and flour.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#6 elyse

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 04:42 PM

Anything wrong with butter?

#7 mcdowell

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 04:46 PM

Anything wrong with butter?

Absolutely nothing wrong with butter (use it in my roux almost exclusively).

Agree that her roux sounds burned. Keep stirring, that's the key. And don't aim for a dark roux the first time out.

The big argument where I come from, concerning gumbo, is okra or file'? I'm a die hard okra man, myself.

#8 Andy Lynes

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 05:06 PM

I don't make gumbo, but use a roux base quite often, and as per Elyse's recommendation, I always use butter. I must admit to having shitty saucepans that require a great deal of attention to prevent anything at all from burning, but have not experienced a bitter sauce resulting from an over cooked roux.

I would bet that the problem results from the initial stage of cooking. I would advise as low a heat as you can manage and be very patient. Roux is one of those preperations that requires some feel and intuition, simple, but wrought with difficulties.

Pierre Koffman in "La Tante Claire" says:

"It takes a special skill and more time to make a roux than it does to make a sauce thickened in other ways"

His recipe for "Sauce Bordelaise Brunoise" begins: "In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over a low heat, mix in 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring continously". Follow that and you should be fine. Remember, if your roux is burnt rather than browned, the bitterness will permeate the entire dish, there is no hiding place.

#9 fifi

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Posted 02 July 2003 - 05:31 PM

Butter is fine for a light roux. In fact, I prefer it for that. But for the dark stuff you need an oil with a high smoke point.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#10 davidscooking

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Posted 03 July 2003 - 03:37 AM

Another point: how much roux are you using for how big a batch of gumbo? Too little roux and you won't get the richness/thickening you want, and too much roux, expecially dark roux, could cause bitterness in the gumbo....

#11 fifi

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Posted 03 July 2003 - 07:49 AM

Good point... Here is the ratio I use for a dark chicken and sausage gumbo: For one pound each chicken and sausage with 6 cups chicken stock I use one cup flour and one cup oil.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#12 hotle

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Posted 03 July 2003 - 10:18 AM

uh oh.

1 flour, 1 cup oil for 6 cups stock? you mean i should've MEASURED?

oops.

thanks (everyone!),

matt

#13 fifi

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Posted 03 July 2003 - 10:58 AM

I should explain that with a dark roux, this style of gumbo is not that thick. It is sort of like a cream soup in thickness. The darker the roux, the less thickening power. It is (of course) served over rice and the "gravy" sinks down through the rice. It is thickened to taste at the table with file.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#14 PopsicleToze

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Posted 07 July 2003 - 02:56 PM

If you try to hurry the roux, or if you don't constantly stir, then you're going to end up with a bad roux. I know I have illustrations somewhere showing what rouxs look like at every step of the way-- a complete illustrative guide even showing overcooked and burnt rouxs. Of course, now that I need it I can't find it. If you start getting black specks, you've burned it, and just throw it down the disposal and start again. If it looks like it's breaking up and separating, then it's bad too.

Did find this illustration. http://www.jonsulliv...rimp_gumbo.php3
Look down in the recipe and you'll see a picture of a nice copper colored roux that I prefer (color of old penny). IMO, the Hershey's chocolate-colored roux is way too dark, and tastes bitter even when it's done correctly.

Use cast iron skillet. Equal amounts of fat and flour. Heat oil first (peanut works great -- IMO rouxs cooked long enough for gumbo are too much for butter to take -- in fact many Cajun recipes call for margarine just for the fact it stands the heat better than butter). Add flour in little bits at first until all incorporated using whisk. After all is incorporated, use a flat-bottomed wooden spatula, and just keep stirring and stirring. Don't answer the phone. Don't go to the bathroom. Stir. For about 1 cup flour and 1 cup fat, it will probably take 45 minutes to 1 hour.

BTW, in a pinch, a lot of Louisiana cooks use Savoy's roux in a jar. Their light roux is the perfect color, and I'm sure you could order it in a pinch until you have the roux mastered. And if you chicken-out and stop the roux before it's dark enough, like I've done so many times, Kitchen Bouquet seasoning darkens it up quite nicely.

Hope this helps.
P.S. Not a chef -- just a cook, so I'm sure not offering this as prof. advice.

#15 PopsicleToze

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Posted 07 July 2003 - 03:06 PM

Sorry -- that was "Savoie's Roux"
Here is their site: http://www.savoiesfo...ducts_roux.html

#16 johnjohn

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Posted 13 April 2004 - 04:43 PM

I am going to make a duck and sausage gumbo tomorrow, and have a question about making the roux. Can you mix fats when making one? For example use 1/2 cup duck fat and 1/4 cup peanut oil.

I plan on doing the following -
1. Browning the duck legs with the skin on to create a fond
2. Drain off any fat
3. Remove the skin
4. Measure the amount of duck fat and add oil to make 3/4 cup, which I will heat and add 3/4 cup flour.

Another question - should I deglaze the pan with a little stock to scrape up the fond, and start my roux in a clean pan or can I start a roux with the fond on the bottom of the pan. I usually clean the pan and start new, but would like to save a little time tomorrow.

Thanks

johnjohn

#17 FistFullaRoux

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Posted 13 April 2004 - 05:21 PM

I am going to make a duck and sausage gumbo tomorrow, and have a question about making the roux.  Can you mix fats when making one?  For example use 1/2 cup duck fat and 1/4 cup peanut oil. 

I plan on doing the following -
1.  Browning the duck legs with the skin on to create a fond
2.  Drain off any fat
3.  Remove the skin
4.  Measure the amount of duck fat and add oil to make 3/4 cup, which I will heat and add 3/4 cup flour.

Another question - should I deglaze the pan with a little stock to scrape up the fond, and start my roux in a clean pan or can I start a roux with the fond on the bottom of the pan.  I usually clean the pan and start new, but would like to save a little time tomorrow.

Thanks

johnjohn

If you really want to incorporate duck flavor in a gumbo, please use stock instead of duck fat in the roux. SImply put, the duck fat will burn long before you get the necessary color. For duck, you should be using roux that is a 1 to 1 mixture of oil and all purpose flour and the color of unsweetened chocolate. This is flirting with "burnt" which is not a flavor to strive for.

Save the duck fat for another dish, and stick with plain old vegetable oil or peanut oil for a dark gumbo roux.

Make sure your ingredients are already cut and measuered before you even put a pot on the stove. Once you start making the roux in a clean pot, do not leave. Never stop stirring. When you have a consistent dark chocolate color (and it might smoke - and it acts like napalm - Don't get it on you) add the chopped celey, onion and bell pepper (already prepped) and begin adding the liquid. The little yummies at the bottom of the pan you browned the duck in can be incorporated by deglazing the pan, then adding that to the broth.

Again, any kind of animal fat is not going to work in a dark roux. At least dark enough to be usable in gumbo.
Screw it. It's a Butterball.

#18 auntdot

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Posted 13 April 2004 - 08:03 PM

From what I have been told NolaFoodie is exactly right. Many in Louisiana, including many Cajuns, no longer make their own roux, just buy it.

Have a few jars sent by the relatives of an in-law.

Savoie is one brand, Kary's in another. One web source has been listed and found a few more by Googling the brand names.

Might want to try ordering a couple (the brands have light and dark roux). They are not very expensive and are a lot cheaper than tossing out a bunch of gumbos.

If nothing else it will confirm that your problem is in the roux, which seems quite likely.

And then get to work on making a roux you like.

Good luck.

#19 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 13 April 2004 - 08:21 PM

I don't know anybody who buys roux, but most of the people I know have at least a little respect for both themselves and others. Anybody can make the stuff. There are two ways to do it. Low and slow, hot and fast. I prefer hot and fast, the method popularized by Paul Prudhomme during his reign at Commander's Palace. His kitchen staff made it by the ton and developed a name for it-Cajun Napalm. If this sticky flour and oil mixture flies out of the pot and onto your body it will burn the hell out of you instantly and when you react and try to wipe it off you will just spread it and burn yourself some more. Be careful.

This batch was made with 1/3 cup peanut oil and 1/3 cup AP flour. I did not clen the cottom of the pan, or deglaze it. I went straight in and started scraping. By the time the oil is hot and the flour starts to brown, everything will be loose off of the bottom of the pan. I often mix two kinds of fat (such as you suggest), just remember that this will most likely lower the burn point of the roux so you will have to make sure that you are constantly scraping and stirring-which you should be doing anyway-in order to keep it from buring.

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I have just added the flour and oil to the pan where sausage has been browing. The grease from the sausage was removed, but the pan was not scraped in anyway-hence the floaties in the oil.

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I am about 5 minutes into the deal over wide open high heat. THe pan is clen and smooth and the chunks left over from the sausage are breaking up, adding to the smoky goodness of the roux. :wink:

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THis roux is ready for my purposes. I could have gone a couple of shades darker, but did not want to for this particular gumbo. Sausage and Chicken should have a dark, but not black or burnt roux.

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I heave in the vegetables to stop the browning of the oil.

And that's it. Simple and quick. Maybe 10-12 minutes from start to finish.

Don't buy bottled roux. I don't even know if Sandra Lee would reccomend it.
Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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