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About roux


hotle
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I've always though the cooking of roux was to get the flour taste out, expand their molecule size and color (or not) to change the 'nuttiness' of the flavor.

I do mine on the stove top for a few minutes (time depending on color) and don't make mine too thick with the flour:butter ratio because I find it easier to whisk out any lumps this way. I mainly use roux for bechamel though and use beurre manie with gumbo.

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When I'm taking the time to make a slow roux -- which doesn't happen very often -- I usually make 2-3x the amount I need, scoop out the extra a bit early into a pyrex measuring cup, and then save the cooled roux for later. (You grab the extra early because it's going to cool on its own, which means it keeps cooking longer than the roux to which you add your trinity, which cools the roux down.) Then you really have fast roux: open the jar and go get 'em.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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When I'm taking the time to make a slow roux -- which doesn't happen very often -- I usually make 2-3x the amount I need, scoop out the extra a bit early into a pyrex measuring cup, and then save the cooled roux for later. (You grab the extra early because it's going to cool on its own, which means it keeps cooking longer than the roux to which you add your trinity, which cools the roux down.) Then you really have fast roux: open the jar and go get 'em.

Or you buy it in the jar already made from a local producer. Six or seven different brands sold at WalMart here, in light, medium, and dark, plus dry roux (browned flour). Jarred roux is widely used in south LA. Here's a photo of a Southern brand roux advertisement displayed in LSUs Tiger Stadium a few seasons ago. http://bouillie.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/p9250428.jpg

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CajunGrocer.com will be happy to send some via mail: http://www.cajungrocer.com/search/index/index/q/roux.html

CG even carries the food service size 30 lb bucket of roux. Just in time for Valentines Day, for the person who has everything.

Edited by HungryC (log)
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I made pressure cooked roux in maison jars as described in Modernist Cuisine. In one jar I added a bit of baking soda to increase maillard, it didn't make very much difference. Both sat in the pc for two hours. I now have instant roux ready in the fridge.

K

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  • 2 months later...

hi,

I know that roux is being used to thicken many things, but I could not find a good answer to why do we need to cook butter and flour, why can't we just add the flour to whatever we want to thicken?

I have heard it has to do with the taste of the flour, but if so, it happens above 100 degrees? cant we heat the flour itself?

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I think it has to do more with texture than flavor - adding flour directly would lead to lumps. A buerre manie is flour + butter, uncooked, that you use to thicken sauces. There's also things like wondra flour which you can add directly, though I forget offhand what they do to it.

See this topic for info about making a butter-less roux and baking the flour to brown it.

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It takes over an hour of high heat to eliminate raw flour taste. Managing to keep a sauce balanced during that much boiling would be a huge pain.

Plus, raw flour wants to naturally form lumps.

Roux separates flour grains by coating each one with fat, so you don't get lumps if you work all the lumps out of the roux first. It also only takes 5-20 minutes to make roux, which cuts the cooking time for a sauce way down.

Check out this transcript of Good Eats on gravy and roux, the roux part is down the page a ways.

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My limited experience is that toasting flour, browning it just by roasting, increases its savory flavor. But when I have added it to dishes, I can feel a granular texture in my mouth. Frying it to make a roux ends up with a similar flavor, but a silkier texture. I guess the mouth feel of roux is partly both the slipperiness of fat, and the gelatinous smoothness of cooked starch.

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I am more familiar with roux in the Louisiana style cooking. Étouffée simply wouldn't be étouffée without a properly done roux. The carmelization and Maillard reactions are necessary, IMHO.

I've seen this guy on several shows about Louisiana cooking, and he suggests that a darker roux has less thickening power.

http://www.jfolse.com/fr_rouxs.htm

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I was essentially going to say what Lisa said. In the past, I've tried just browning the flour in a small saucepan by itself, without butter or some form of fat, and even on low heat, its pretty hard to cook it enough to remove the flour taste, and not cook it too long and end up with a burnt taste. And that doesn't relieve the problem of clumping, you'd probably want to create a slurry, which is a thickening agent (in this case, flour) and cold water, mixed together, then added to the gravy, stew, etc.

If you don't mind my asking, what are you making that calls for roux? It would probably help our advice if we knew specifics. :biggrin:

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Roux is a classical French thickener used in sauces. At the time of Escoffier wheat flour was really one of the only thickeners available and hence formed the basis of the mother sauces. Since this time many new pure starch thickeners have become available, such as potato starch or cornstarch, which are easily dissolvable in water to add to sauces. You do not need to use anywhere near the amount of potato starch that you do when using flour. It is also flavour neutral. So if thickening is the aim and you want a lighter sauce, I'd steer away from roux.

Having said all that roux gives a mouth fullness (that is, creates heavy sauces) that many prefer. Moreover, the butter is important as a cooking medium to get consistent colour in the darker rouxs used in Cajun cooking.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Roux is a classical French thickener used in sauces. At the time of Escoffier wheat flour was really one of the only thickeners available and hence formed the basis of the mother sauces. Since this time many new pure starch thickeners have become available, such as potato starch or cornstarch, which are easily dissolvable in water to add to sauces. You do not need to use anywhere near the amount of potato starch that you do when using flour. It is also flavour neutral. So if thickening is the aim and you want a lighter sauce, I'd steer away from roux.

Having said all that roux gives a mouth fullness (that is, creates heavy sauces) that many prefer. Moreover, the butter is important as a cooking medium to get consistent colour in the darker rouxs used in Cajun cooking.

I agree with the first paragraph; indeed, I seem to recall that Escoffier himself didn't consider wheat flour an ideal thickener.

I have to take issue with the second paragraph, however. While you can use butter to make red brown or black Cajun rouxs, vegetable oil of some sort is more commonly called for, by far.

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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I've just looked at Donald Link's book "Real Cajun" and he uses butter. Paul Prudhomme in hs "Louisiana Kitchen" uses oil, although he says that his mother used to use animal fat. My suspicion is that the Cajuns brought making of roux with butter from Southern France where they originated but adapted it to locally available ingredients. Oil is thus more likely traditional within living memory and hence oral tradition.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Not being knowledgeable here at all, I thought southwest French cooking was animal fat based and southeast French cooking was olive oil based? And if I remember my history, at the time the Cajuns came, southeast France was Italian (until Napoleon III, in 1859).

For my own cooking I almost always use butter for roux, but sometimes use chicken or pork fat.

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Which "Cajuns" are we talking about? Their pre Canadian immigration ancestors in France, the several generations who lived in Acadie, or the post dispersal folks who came to LA or are we talking about current practices in south LA among their descendants, who are highly adapted and intermarried with every other culture in LA? If we're talking colonial settlement period in LA, it was almost certainly lard. Processed veg oils were far off in the future, olive oil was imported and this expensive, and butter was both expensive and not available year round. Practically every farmstead raised a couple of pigs, and the communal butchering tradition still hangs on as a party/celebration during cooler weather.

Anyway, butter rouxs are indeed present in contemporary southern LA cooking, but most home cooks use veg oil most often for rouxs. Butter, esp unclarified butter, is way easy to burn if you're making a milk chocolate roux. Community cookbooks from the area often specify peanut oil, and a few still mention lard or call for a small portion of bacon grease in combination with another fat. Chefs like Folse and Link are fine representatives of resto cooking, but there is a whole body of home cooking practices outside the cheffy realm.

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it was almost certainly lard. Processed veg oils were far off in the future

Same in SE Asia, soybean oil now common, but in the past, what was available. Rendered fat, or coconut fat. In any case, one should be able to recite exactly the manufacturing process of any oil one uses. This is a huge blind spot among people who otherwise abhor processed foods. I've never understood the fascination that Thomas Keller (otherwise a viable choice for zombie master) has with canola oil. Or rather, I understand it, but, really?

Gumbo is one of my all-time favorite dishes, which I've made for 50 to 100 people more times than I can count. Tricky, because while I put peasant dishes on a higher altar than skyscraper food, peasant techniques are often mediocre. Yet, it is precisely the flaws in a method that gives dishes character. Bad cooks burn, timid cooks come nowhere close, and great cooks confidently stride near the precipice. If one overanalyzes the "intended purpose" of a technique, one gets caught between what people think they're doing and what they're actually doing. Roux isn't even remotely about thickening, though this can be a side effect, diminished as the roux gets darker. It's a crucial ingredient, and a high art to get right.

Gumbo descends from both a family of African dishes, and from bouillabaisse. The latter, being French, is taught with more refined technique than practiced by the country yokels whose cuisine I admire. This technique can be borrowed for any roux-based dish: Go learn how the French think about roux, then make it darker. Clarified butter does solve some technical problems, and is easy to make. No one will know, or they won't know why they like it so much, and the cook's goal in any case is to "sell" the dish to the diner. The diner generally wasn't watching in the kitchen. A good gumbo sells itself.

Centuries ago in France, one made double and triple stocks in the belief that simply boiling down a stock threw away much of its character. A triple gumbo stock, made from chicken then crabs then lobster, can really lift the dish. The key point to bouillabaisse is to time backwards from serving, when adding the fish. Here, follow the Thomas Keller technique of removing the lobster meat while nearly raw, freeing the shells for stock, and serve over the gumbo lightly poached or sous vide in butter with a bit of water. Not traditional but no one will object. In short, return to the roots of any dish for further guidance. My French cooking teacher, resolutely authentic, nevertheless described authenticity to me as the "last bad performance."

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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  • 2 years later...

I've used AP flour for years when making a roux.

I've found using unsalted clarified butter to be the best type. That's pretty much the standard. But I suspect there are/is a type of flour that gives the better result than AP flour.

For the record I follow Escoffier's ratio of 5 parts butter to 6 parts flour. I always 'dextrinize' the flour before using it in a roux.

 Any thoughts/suggestion for the best type of flour to use?

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Ive used Wondra for a long time.   I can't tell you what find of flour it is but its extremely fine so there is less chance of Lumps.

 

it also might be a low gluten flour like 'cake' flour.

 

its best kept in the refrigerator as various Bugs love the stuff.

 

as for flavor vs other flours i can't really say

 

so 'best' here for me = less lumps.  but lumps are pretty much technique related

 

with the rise of stick blenders, esp one w a variable speed, lumps are most a thing of the past.

 

so 'best' flavor ? can't say.

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'Wondra' flour is in fact already 'dextrinized'. Meaning heat has been used to change the starch molecules which makes it easier to digest.

It isn't so much the 'flavor' I'm looking for. It's the consistency.

I've never needed to use a stick blender making making any gravy base/soup/ sauce based on first making a roux.

 The consistency I achieve is always perfect. 

I'm just looking for another level of excellence.

 

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then why not look into higher-end flour.

 

King Arthur as many high protein flours, but shipping cost may be prohibitive.

 

Im sorry if you thought the stick-blender idea was for you.  Ive need had lumps either w a whisk.

 

i just put it out there for general consumption.

 

Id guess as this seems to be a keen interest for you ;  look for especially fresh flour, ground in small batches.

 

there are places like that on the internet, and are mentioned here from time to time in the various baking threads, but they escape me now.

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