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Hot or Cold Stock? The Gumbo/Roux Gauntlet


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3 replies to this topic

#1 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
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Posted 25 January 2006 - 06:16 AM

Sara, you may have noticed that the members here at the eGullet Society can be somewhat... energetic about their opinions related to food and cooking. I'm hoping I can drag you into the middle of one particular debate.

We've been doing what we call "cook-offs" here for a while; a group of people cook, photograph, and discuss a particular dish in a thread devoted to that obsession. (Click here to see the list.) Over in the gumbo cook-off, Linda (fifi) threw down the gauntlet with this post:

. . . . .
Gumbo is an astonishingly varied dish, much like cassoulet, about which there are great arguments concerning what must or must not go into the pot: gumbo file powder (ground sassafras), crawfish, andouille sausage, okra, fish, chicken, pork, hocks.... The agreed-upon basics involve a dark roux (flour and oil paste), to which diced onions, bell peppers, and celery are added, to which a hot stock is incrementally added[.]

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I just noticed that you said to add "hot stock." Mais non, mon cher! If the roux is hot, the stock must be cool, as in room temperature, or you will have a heck of a time.

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She and I have been back and forth on this now for months, and we're still a bit confused. We've consulted McGee and resident food scientists; we've also started a thread on oil separation (click) because we suspect that the addition of stock to roux is the key to that particular problem in gumbos.

Care to dip your toe into this river of molten foodie lava? What's your opinion? Does the temperature of stock added to roux matter? If you think it does, it's because it should be simmering, right? Right?

:wink:
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#2 Sara Moulton

Sara Moulton
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Posted 25 January 2006 - 07:36 AM

Sara, you may have noticed that the members here at the eGullet Society can be somewhat... energetic about their opinions related to food and cooking. I'm hoping I can drag you into the middle of one particular debate.

We've been doing what we call "cook-offs" here for a while; a group of people cook, photograph, and discuss a particular dish in a thread devoted to that obsession. (Click here to see the list.) Over in the gumbo cook-off, Linda (fifi) threw down the gauntlet with this post:

. . . . .
Gumbo is an astonishingly varied dish, much like cassoulet, about which there are great arguments concerning what must or must not go into the pot: gumbo file powder (ground sassafras), crawfish, andouille sausage, okra, fish, chicken, pork, hocks.... The agreed-upon basics involve a dark roux (flour and oil paste), to which diced onions, bell peppers, and celery are added, to which a hot stock is incrementally added[.]

View Post


I just noticed that you said to add "hot stock." Mais non, mon cher! If the roux is hot, the stock must be cool, as in room temperature, or you will have a heck of a time.

View Post


She and I have been back and forth on this now for months, and we're still a bit confused. We've consulted McGee and resident food scientists; we've also started a thread on oil separation (click) because we suspect that the addition of stock to roux is the key to that particular problem in gumbos.

Care to dip your toe into this river of molten foodie lava? What's your opinion? Does the temperature of stock added to roux matter? If you think it does, it's because it should be simmering, right? Right?

:wink:

View Post


Alright, this whole thing IS controversial. I have always added a hot liquid to a hot roux. I get the smoothest sauce this way. I have several colleagues however, who add cold to hot or room temp to hot. I think the reason the oil separates out of a sauce when using a roux is because there is not enough actual water in the sauce (much of it gets evaporated in the reducing). I have had success simply whisking some water into a split sauce. What does Shirely Corriher say? And Harold?
Sara Moulton

#3 fifi

fifi
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Posted 25 January 2006 - 08:11 AM

Oh my goodness. Chris threw out the bait and I can't resist snapping it up. I just can't stay out of this one. Here is where I finally came out on the gumbo question. To save the trouble of going back to that topic:

BTW . . . Remember that gumbo is different from sauces. I also add hot liquid when making a bechamel et al. It works fine. But I don't think we can compare those sauces to what we are talking about here.

When you add hot liquid to the VERY hot roux (even though you have quenched it with the veggies, it is still very hot) you are guaraaawnteed (Justin Wilson accent) to have a problem that I call dog barf. Yes, you can get it to combine eventually if you work really really hard at it. I think that is where gumbo differs from bechamel and their ilk. The roux is usually much hotter than in a sauce. One of these days I am going to use my new Thermopen toy and see just how hot the dark brown roux really is both before and after quenching.

The oil break out is a different phenomenon as compared to the original combining issue. It occurs after simmering for a long time. The gumbo base is usually simmered for about 2 hours. This is another difference from the usual sauces. The same long simmer occurs with curries and chilis. I am pretty sure that if you simmered the sauces for a long time they would break also.

I guess the real question is why it DOESN'T break sometimes.



The discussion actually split into two controversies; the initial combining of the sauce, and the oil break out over the long simmer. I think I can understand what is going on with the initial emulsification. In gumbo, a typical ratio is 1 cup each oil and flour for the roux to about 6 cups liquid. That is a lot of liquid. It is the factors with the final oil break out that I can't find anything on.

Sara, I recall that you posted about the sauces and I don't disagree. But the Gumbo Goddess warned me about hot stock in gumbo. And she was right, dammit. (You can see where good ole eG donnybrooks can go.) :laugh:

We don't want to take up all of your time with this here, but if you join in with your considerable chops on that topic, it wouldn't hurt my feelings. :biggrin: ( I should warn you, that may have been Chris's sneaky intent all along. :raz: )
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

#4 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
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Posted 25 January 2006 - 08:14 AM

Thank you for weighing in, Sara. You are, of course, absolutely correct.

What does Shirely Corriher say? And Harold?

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Sara, they are strangely quiet on the subject. I think that Linda may have gotten to them.

:hmmm:
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts