If you’ve ever ventured into the world of Cajun cooking, or come close to Cajun cooking, then you’ve probably heard the term roux. This is a very basic ingredient in a variety of French, Creole, and Cajun recipes. But what exactly is the roux and what is its purpose?
A roux is a mixture of flour and fat. The fat is usually in the form of butter or oil. A roux is the base of many Cajun dishes such as gumbo, etouffees, and hot sauce. Now let’s learn a little more about the different types of roux.
There are basically three types of roux:
There is light roux or what is known as a “blonde” roux. There is a medium roux, also known as a “peanut butter” colored roux. Finally, there is the dark red. The color of the roux determines the flavor of the roux.
Making a good roux comes with practice. The preparation and color of the roux depend on the cooking time. If you’re trying to achieve a “blonde” roux, you need to cook your roux for only four to five minutes. If you want to get the smoky flavor of a dark roux, you may need to cook it for twenty-five minutes on high heat, or up to an hour on low heat.
Now the hardest part of making roux is the fact that it has to be constantly stirred. This means that there is absolutely no stopping. You can’t answer the phone, go to the bathroom, get your kids out of the cookie jar, etc. Constantly means not stopping even for a few seconds. If you don’t constantly stir the roux, it will burn.
You should also be very careful when stirring the roux. It’s really hot. If you start to see black spots on your roux, then you have burned it. You have to throw it away and start over. Making a roux takes a lot of patience and practice.
Roux with thicken your gumbo, sauces and etouffees and stews. If you want to achieve a toasty nutty flavor in any of your Cajun recipes, you need to learn how to make a dark roux. But keep in mind that dark roux has less thickening power.
So if you want to become a true Cajun or Creole cook, you need to learn how to make a good roux. This will become the base of many of your dishes. But as you can see, you should be ready to spend a lot of time on your roux.