Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It's All about the Roux

I'm not a patient person. It simply isn't one of my gifts. So when I decided to make a roux for a gumbo I was making, instead of reading or studying about it, I called an expert. See I have a friend whose Louisiana roots run deep and I knew she loved to cook, so obviously she was my go-to girl. Within minutes she had asked me all the pertinent questions like: what kind of pan are you using? (iron skillet - got that right); what ingredients are you using? (butter and flour - got that right too); and does your schedule allow for standing at the stove for the next 15 or 20 minutes constantly stirring the said roux? Hmmm...okay. This is a must apparently so it doesn't burn but turns a beautiful brown color. Well, I was already committed to my roux so I wasn't going to abandon it now so yes, I'll take the challenge. And by gum(bo), it worked! So if you love a good gumbo, you must know your roux. Here are a few tips. 

If you are a beginner at roux start out with a half flour, half oil or butter mixture. The more oil you use the less likely it will burn too fast. As you get better at it you can use less oil. Add the oil and flour to the pot and set the fire on medium. Some of the best roux were made in a cast iron pot or cast iron skillet. 

Using a spatula, stir the roux scraping the entire bottom of the pot every time. Using a spatula allows you to move all of the mixture around and you don't have to make more than a few passes to do it. Stir the mixture every 15 seconds or so. The roux will bubble at first then will get smooth as it cooks. 

WARNING: Don't be tempted to walk away and do something else, if the roux burns at any point during the process, it is no good. Once the roux has turned a medium brown lower the fire just a little. Keep stirring as you were before. You will notice with each stirring the roux gets a tiny bit more brown. Actually, it was easier than I thought and that gumbo sure was good. 

By the way, if you're a Southern Living Magazine reader, there’s a great article in the February issue about this very subject.

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