While browsing through many recipes on soups and sauce or gravies you must have encountered the word more often than not. Though sounding bourgeois, roux in cooking is a quintessential technique to master for one to thicken a soup, gravy, sauce, or even beverage. Though there are many different techniques we use in the kitchen to thicken the liquid, the mouthfeel that comes with tasting and eating a thick gravy or salad dressing can make even simple ingredients using a roux feel luxurious.
What is Roux For Cooking?
It is a classic French cooking technique that uses flour and butter to help thicken the liquid. A standard recipe combines the equal weight of flour with fat. In which the flour is cooked in fat (often butter) so the starch molecules are coated with fat and water present in butter or fat to either bind to the starches of flour. It prevents them from lumping together or forming lumps when introduced into a liquid.
How To Make A Good Roux
Usually, the main reason why people avoid using the roux is that they previously had a disastrous experience while incorporating the roux into the liquid to thicken it. Ending up with a sauce that does not thicken, as the butter is separated from the roux making the sauce into a buttery mess.
To avoid such a conundrum you just need to follow any of the three simple rules which are easy to master.
- Always add a cool and refrigerated roux to a hot liquid. Avoid using an ice-cold roux, as a cool temperature roux can be incorporated into the hot liquid more easily than an ice-cold roux because the fat is not as solid.
- When thickening a chilled/refrigerated liquid, always add the hot roux to it. But avoid using extremely hot roux as it may spatter when combined with a liquid and cause serious burns. Also, a very cold liquid should not be used, as it will initially cause the roux to harden.
- If your thickening liquid is at room temperature you can use a roux that is at room temperature.
Types Of Roux
We’ll have a look at types of roux, how it’s made for gravy or soup, and a handful of tips while making a roux.
is cooked only briefly and should be removed from the heat as soon as it develops a frothy, bubbly appearance. It is used in white sauces and soups, such as béchamel, cream of mushroom soup, or in dishes where little or no color is desired.
Blonde Roux is cooked slightly longer than white roux and should begin to take on a little color as the flour caramelizes. It is used in beige-colored sauces and soups, such as velouté, or where a richer flavor is desired.
is cooked until it develops a darker color and a nutty aroma and flavor. Brown roux is used in brown sauces and dishes where a dark color is desired, such as gumbo and sauce Espagnole. Brown roux has a diminished thickening ability for about 25 to 30 percent compared to other roux.
Therefore, because brown roux is cooked longer than white roux, a more brown roux is required to thicken a given quantity of liquid.
Type Of Pot To Use For Making A Roux
- Do not use aluminum pots and pans. When making a roux the whisk would scrape on the aluminum surface which would impart a gray color to the sauces and also a metallic flavor.
- Use heavy bottom pots such as a dutch oven so the heat is evenly distributed to prevent sauces from scorching or burning during extended cooking time.
What Makes Roux Different From Another Thickening Method
There are many different thickening methods that are being used, from liaison reduction to the use of different plant-based thickening agents like gelatin and xanthan gum. Although other thickeners are gradually becoming more popular in the kitchen than roux, Roux has still held on its own in terms of flavor in mouth fullness it gives compared to other thickening methods.
Cooking the flour in fat also eliminates the taste of the raw flour and also adds color to the thickening liquid. Usually, the type of roux used in recipes is defined by the color it is after it’s been cooked, which can range from white, blond, brown to dark. Each is used in various recipes giving the liquid not only it’s color but also the complex nutty, caramel flavors that are developed from the cooking of the butter along with the starch.
Roux To Liquid Ratio
Best Flour For Roux
Flours vary in their starch-to-protein ratio. Roux can be prepared with any type of white wheat flour. But the different flour has different starch to protein ratios so that will impact the final thickness of the liquid. The best flour to use to make a roux is all-purpose flour due to its starch content.
- All-purpose flour: It is the best flour to use to make a roux, having a thickening power between Cake and Bread flour.
- Cake Flour: It has a higher proportion of starch to a protein that will give your roux more thickening power than using other flour. So even little can go a long way.
- Bread Flour: Whereas bread flour has a higher proportion of protein to starch, which is not ideal for a roux. Roux made with bread flour has less thickening power.
But do not be afraid to use other starches apart from White wheat flour; such as Whole wheat flour, corn starch, tapioca, and even potato flour. But just remember each flour would give the final sauce a unique flavor and texture depending on the flavor of the starch and also affecting its thickening potency depending on the ratio of starch to protein
Making Roux For Gravy
Whether it will be white, blond, brown, or dark roux the procedure for making a roux is the same. The only thing that differs is the cooking time, the more you cook the darker and complex the flavor would become.
For this recipe, we have taken a basic ratio of 1:1 for all-purpose flour and clarified butter by weight. If you are cautious about the use of high amounts of fat and want something lighter use a ratio of 60 percent flour to 40 percent fat, by weight.
- 50 g All-purpose flour (60 g for lighter roux)
- 50 g Butter (40 g for lighter roux)
- In a bottom-heavy pan heat the butter over medium heat till it melts and is about to get a light simmer bubble. At this point add in the flour and stir it to combine.
- Constantly stir the roux to avoid scorching using a whisk and to make it color evenly. Burnt roux will not thicken a liquid; it will simply add dark specks and an undesirable flavor and also would not be able to thicken the sauce.
- White roux needs to cook for about 3 minutes, long enough to minimize the raw flour taste. It would smell like partially cooked pie dough. At that point, your white roux would be ready. To take off from heat and put it in a container.
- Blond roux is cooked longer for about 6 to 7 min until the paste begins to change to a slightly darker golden color. It would smell like toasting nuts, which would indicate the roux is done and be ready to be taken out of the pan
- Brown roux requires a much longer cooking time to develop its characteristic color and aroma for about 12 to 13 minutes. It would develop a peanut butter-like color.
- The cooked roux should be very smooth and moist, with a glossy sheen, not dry or greasy. It should look sandy.
- The temperature and amount of roux being prepared determine the exact length of cooking time.
- To reduce the chances of scorching, large quantities of roux may be placed in a moderate oven (177° to 191°C) to complete cooking.
FAQs About Roux In Cooking
What kind of oil do you use for a Roux?
The fat that is used to make roux would play a huge role in influencing the finished dish’s flavor and mouthful. So when selecting fat you can think about what prominent flavor would like to have in the final product.
- Clarified/ Ghee; butter is the most common fat used for making a roux
- Whole butter
- Vegetable oils
- Rendered chicken fat
- Duck Fat; by far my favorite fat to use
Can you make a roux with chicken fat?
Yes, you can make a roux with rendered chicken fat.
What does Roux means in cooking terms?
Roux is a technique used in cooking to thicken liquid (soups or gravies). A standard recipe for roux calls for an equal ratio of flour and fat.
How long does it take roux to thicken a liquid?
For the roux to start its full thickening action becomes evident when the liquid has reached approximately 93°C. For sauces, you want to reach a nappé consistency, which is a French term that means coating the back of a spoon. Long-cooking sauces and soups are further thickened through further reduction.