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The Light and Dark Side of Roux

Charlie
Posted by Charlie on May 24, 2016

Nothing is more satisfying than learning how to change the texture and consistency of a sauce. A great roux can take something that was once watery, and in a matter of minutes, transform it into a thick and creamy dish. Despite what you may have heard, making roux is actually easier than you may think.

Roux is a thickening agent that is more stable than cornstarch or arrow root. The two latter don't hold up well over time, whereas, roux can help ensure that your sauce holds together longer.

To create a roux, you need nothing more than two ingredients; flour (I prefer cake flour), and butter. The ratio for a roux is pretty simple: equal parts flour and butter.

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To start the process, melt whatever quantity of butter you decide. For the best possible roux, I like a pound of butter and flour. If you try to make too little, it can cook too fast and you may end up burning it.

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Once your butter is melted, add all of the flour, put the heat on medium low and start stirring. The next question is, when you do you stop? It depends on what type of roux you want to make.

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There are different variations of roux, each with its own flavor profile and thickening effect.

Rouxs come in different versions::

White Roux

This is the quickest kind of roux to make, and has the most thickening power. These are great for Alfredo or bechamel sauces.

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Blond Roux

A blonde roux gets cooked until it is light in color, almost golden. These are great for making cream-based soups as they don't thicken it quite as much as say a sausage gravy you would make with a white roux.

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Dark Roux

Dark roux is the darkest, it has a dark nutty color and has a very complex flavor. It also thickens the least amongst the white and blonde rouxs. Traditionally you will find dark rouxs used in full effect with Cajun or Creole dishes like Gumbo. This roux requires about 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

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Once your roux is done, you can do a couple of things with it. First, cool slightly and use it immediately. If you feel like you made too much roux, which is usually the case, you can roll it up into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze it. It's perfectly fine to add cold roux to hot liquids. Alternatively, you could add hot roux to cold liquids. Either way, you want a temperature difference. This is the only way these two will play nicely together.

Determining the amount of roux you need is simple. One 1 tablespoon of roux thickens roughly 2 1/2 cups of liquid. Once you add the roux, bring it to a boil, and reduce to a simmer until it thickens to your taste.

Roux is an easy and delicious way to thicken and add complex flavored to your dishes. With two simple ingredients, you can create culinary magic.

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We cover sauces and how to thicken them extensively in The Chopping Block's Culinary Boot Camp. If attending a week-long cooking class isn't an option for you, we now offer our Boot Camp classes a la carte, meaning you can take each day individually, usually on the weekends. We are offering our Soups and Sauces class on Saturday, June 18 at our Merchandise Mart location. You'll get hands-on experience making roux in this class!

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Topics: sauces, sauce, roux

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