Roux. I love roux, and I depend on it to make my dishes unique. To a novice it might seem mysterious, but it’s really quite simple. Many people use a roux and have no idea they’ve mastered a French cooking skill. Roux is a combination of flour and fat. The fat type, and the degree of browning gives roux it’s unique flavors. You can use a variety of fats such as butter, canola, bacon, beef, chicken, olive oil, etc. The varieties and uses are endless, so I’ll give an overview of what I commonly use in my kitchen. I’m afraid if I don’t limit the roux discussion to those three, I might not ever finish this post.
The most commonly used fat in my kitchen is butter (second most common is bacon fat) and the three most common types of roux I use are blonde, medium, and dark. I need a dark roux to thicken chili, so while I’m making it, I’ll make the light and medium to store for use later.
Blonde roux, has a creamy flavor and is the base for many “mother sauces”, soups, bisques, and chowders. This is a blonde roux. To get blonde roux, just cook until it starts to get bubbles. That’s it, your blonde roux is ready to use or store. I’ll store about half of this in my freezer (good for 6 months) since I use it more often than the others, and continue browning the remaining roux. Remember- The darker the roux, the lower the thickening power.
Basic white sauce is made using 2 tbsp. of blonde roux, and 1 cup of milk. Bring to low boil while stirring. Additions customize the sauce, such as 2 tbsp. of sour cream make it a sour cream sauce, or melt 2 tbsp. sharp cheddar for a cheese sauce. The possibilities go on and on.
Medium roux has a somewhat toasty/nutty flavor, and is an excellent thickener for soups, stews, gravies, and other sauces. To get medium roux, continue to cook and stir until you have the color of a light caramel. I love to use it to thicken gravy for roast beef, and other sauces or soups needing a deeper flavor. I’m going to save at least half of this in the freezer, then continue to brown the rest.
Dark roux has a rich smokey flavor, I like to use it to thicken chili, gumbo, and any other sauce where I’m hoping to add a bit of smokey flavor to the sauce. I particularly like to use roast pork drippings and apple juice for a sauce base and add a dark roux to thicken, the flavor is amazing.
I’m going to use this dark roux to thicken chili today and give it a smokey flavor.
When adding roux to your dishes, add a spoonful at a time to see the amount of thickening power you’ve gotten and test the flavor before adding more.
I hope you’ll make and store these three types of roux to experiment with. The types of roux and resulting recipes are endless, but this is a basic start.
Watch for my Luxe Thanksgiving Turkey Gravy recipe coming up soon using a medium roux.