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Questions regarding roux


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Pesticides are a massively overblown fear

Possibly so. However, neither of the two biologists I spoke with felt that the fear was misplaced or inappropriate.

I'm the parent of a female toddler. I see some fairly frightening trends, including the rising incidence of precocious puberty, ADHD, asthma, autism, Asperger's, food allergies, diabetes, and so on. Some of these are readily explainable -- poor nutrition, not enough exercise, overdiagnosis (or previous underreporting), and so on. For some of the others, all science is offering us right now is a shrug of the shoulders and reassurances that, "Well, it's not the air per se" and "it's not the food per se" and it's not the water per se." I don't take a lot of comfort from those answers, since they're not really answers at all...and they often fail to take synergy into account.

As a layperson, I'm certainly swimming upstream against a tide of sensational newsreports about the latest threats, clumsily trying to pick out which are legitimate causes for concern and which aren't. Bottom line for me is that since my little girl eats my food, and since whatever negative effects contaminants may have are likely to be magnified by her age, I'm going to hedge my bets juuuuust a bit and have her consume as little mercury, BPA, synthetic hormones, antiobiotics, and other unnecessary chemicals as possible. If I were only cooking and baking for myself, I probably wouldn't feel as strongly about it.

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Nicely said. Not to mention soil health and water health.

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

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and I gotta chime in here... since it's been a topic I've searched and can't seem to get an answer...

Now the rule is never to mix hot roux to hot stock (i.e. gumbo) - always have cold to hot or hot to cold - ok I get that - got it in my head however the lingering questions is... why? I've done the wrong thing and added hot to hot with foul results but still, why does it overcook the roux? What is the science behind this? Where oh where is Alton when you need him?

:-)

Brian

Brian Misko

House of Q - Competition BBQ

www.houseofq.com

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One thing thats always surprised me about roux recipes is the lack of advice on how to add the flour. I love roux. It's such a beautiful foundation of many a sauce or soup. I consider myself a master!

Whatever your butter to flour ratio, you shouldn't add all of the flour at once. This makes the roux too cakey and allows pockets of flour to brown faster than others. Besides, browning the butter is the most important flavor feature. Keep the roux a very thin batter. I even keep it at a watery consistency if I know I'm going brown or darker. The thinner the roux the more consistent the surface of the roux is touching the surface of heat. Add a little more flour as it thins out. This is especially useful for really dark rouxs, the ones you really don't want to burn. You can keep a dark roux really thin through the cooking process and add the last of your flour in the end to start the cooling process. There's more than enough heat to cook any amount of flour.

As for clarified vs whole. I've used clarified to make gumbo roux and it just doesn't result in the same flavor. You lose all of those nutty caramel flavors from the milk solids.

And yes, roux is like tahini when it sits. All of the non fat solids sink to the bottom. Just warm it up and stir it smooth again.

Sorry to sound like a nerd here. Just made tons of roux over the years. Literally tons.

RM

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Unclarified butter will burn like hell if you try to make a mahogany or darker roux--an oil with a high smoking point is best (like peanut oil). Honestly, I make roux most often with bacon grease! I'm no fan of the some-now-some-later method of adding flour, mainly because I'm shooting for dark color, and introducing new flour lowers the temp, extends the cooking time, and seems like it would result in a lighter end product overall.

Regarding the relative temps of stock & roux, I've had success adding hot to cold, cold to hot, and hot to hot, regardless of what the "rules" say. It always works out in the end, but then I'm making long-cooked gumbos or etouffees or stews most of the time, and not veloutes/white sauces. When making gumbo in 60-quart pots, where the roux is 2-3 pounds of flour alone, I generally allow the roux to cool a little--to around 120 or so, or hot to the touch but not hot enough to burn your fingers--and add it to already-boiling stock & aromatics. It works just fine, as long as you stir like hell while adding the roux to the pot, and stir like hell for the next 5 minutes or so.

When the roux does separate out from the stock, or it refuses to mix in, time is the solution. Be patient, keep cooking, and all will be well. I've never had a roux completely unwilling to mix in. If you're inattentive, it can separate into globs and fall to the bottom of the pot (esp large pots), but thorough stirring and a good rolling boil will take care of those globs.

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HungryC,

Thanks for the description and it is a scenario where I'm making roux in one pan while another pot has the simmering gumbo ingredients... once I've got the color I'm looking for in the roux I'm anxious to add it to the gumbo pot. All hell breaks loose at that point when I do add it and the result is the roux quickly overcooks.

What I hear in your description/experience is to let the roux cool before adding to the stock. Got it.

Since I'm into the science of this... this seems to be simply an oil/water scenario where the oil (the roux) is as hot or hotter than the water (stock) and thus the reaction that occurs is separation... even though separation doesn't really appear to occur... it just cooks really, really fast even though you are stirring like rabid banshee. Or simply put, cool the roux Brian and make life easier. Got it.

Thanks and happy etoufee day,

Brian

Brian Misko

House of Q - Competition BBQ

www.houseofq.com

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Brian, you bring up an interesting point. In traditional gumbo technique, the roux is made, and its cooking is arrested by adding chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, etc. Once these aromatics are wilted, the stock/water is added next.

You describe a process--making a roux on the side and having a pot of boiling other stuff (I'm assuming veggies & proteins), awaiting delivery of the finished roux (in my case, a slightly cooled roux). This process is the one I use ONLY when making LARGE quantities, like the 60 quart pot I mentioned in my earlier post. We cool the roux partially to make it easier to handle, as hot roux sticks to the skin & will result in nasty burns, kinda like hot sugar syrup. I am not aware that a hot roux added to hot water will continue to cook, but rather that it will just sink right to the bottom of the pot in globs and not mix into the stock very quickly. Again, the potential problems are that these chunks indee might burn if stuck to the bottom of the pot or, if the flour was insufficiently cooked, turn slightly solid and never incorporate into the liquid. These "roux bergs" are pretty nasty, I can attest, and there is no way to get rid of them once they're formed. You pretty much have to pitch the whole batch and start again.

When making gumbo in "home" quantities (say, up to a 16 or 20 quart stockpot), I generally follow the traditional method of making the roux & stopping the cooking by adding the aromatics...this mixture is then easily scraped into a stockpot for the next steps. I guess if you had long arms, you could make roux directly in a stockpot, but I'm short so it's not practical. My newest pot is a 7-quart wide Le Creuset french oven, sold as a "risotto" pot, which might be the perfect gumbo pot. Thick, even-heating bottom for roux-making, shallow enough to be comfortable for constant stirring, yet big enough to allow for a rolling boil.

Edited by HungryC (log)
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HungryC,

There are likely as many ways to make gumbo in regards to the roux and stock as there are varieties of gumbo itself... by the same token, I found fresh okra today! Yeah! (not a local vegetable in Vancouver).

Thanks

Brian

Brian Misko

House of Q - Competition BBQ

www.houseofq.com

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I picked up the newspaper this AM to find this poem---from the author's newest book "Let it Be a Dark Roux: New & Selected Poems":

'Making a Roux' by Sheryl St. Germain

I am making a roux, like my mother, like my grand-

mother, like all the women whose shadows stretch

before and behind me. I am standing before the stove

stirring, and I wonder what they thought of as they stood

and stirred, as their hands went round and round

in this ancient gesture. I wonder

if they looked deep into it as I do, as if it could speak,

stared at this flour and grease come together,

this stuff that is base, thickener, nothing

you cook will ever cohere without it, this

stuff that must be cooked over the slowest fire,

this stuff that must be tended

until the heat turns it the color of nuts,

the color of the earth, the river

the sweet color of some skins,

the color the roux gives up

to the dish it will thicken.

I am making a roux, like my mother, like my grand-

mother, it is so simple, this flour and grease

come together with its thick bready

flavor, like the two of us come together.

Let it be a good roux, a dark roux, let the cream,

the smoky glue, the sweat and dirt of us,

thicken some dish already seasoned,

already rich.

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