Learn how to make a roux and the sauce world is yours!
An easy base for many sauces and gravies, this simple combination of fat and flour will help you create fabulous sauces and gravies and a mean bowl of gumbo!
A roux is the basis for many gravy and sauce recipes Once you master this basic recipe, the world is your oyster!
What is a roux?
- Pronounced "roo", a French term, is the result of combining and heating equal amounts of fat and starch.
- Roux is the basis of sauces and gravies. The fat content is typically butter, but other fats include oil and/or pan drippings from sauteed or roasted meats.
- A roux is the base of a dish or sauce; it is not a sauce on its own
Here's what you'll need:
Equal amounts of fat (butter, oil, bacon grease, pan drippings) and flour.
When you first learn how to make a roux, this equal measurement is always where you start. If you have more fat than flour or vice versa, you will have to start over.
How to make roux?
Melt the fat first, then sprinkle in an equal amount of flour, and whisk.
This initial step cooks the raw flour. After about two minutes or so the flour is done.
At this point, you can do a couple of things:
Add the mixture directly to a soup or stew for thickening
Add a liquid to the fat and flour to make a sauce or gravy and stir constantly on low heat
Use equal amounts of butter and flour, melt fat in a heavy-bottom skillet.
Once fat has melted, sprinkle in flour or cornstarch stirring continually.
I've made the roux...now what?
Once you've made the roux, you'll want to add a liquid:
Add dairy to make a cream sauce - makes a Bechamel, or Basic white sauce
Add fish or seafood broth - makes Veloute, or a fish sauce
Add beef or chicken broth - makes beef or chicken sauce
Add tomato sauce or paste - makes tomato sauce
If you're making gumbo, you'll want to cook the roux on low heat, constantly stirring until it is dark brown. This typically takes 30 - 40 minutes.
Three types of roux
There are various degrees of roux: the first being white, the next is blonde and the third is dark. Each of these is the first step in creating a delicious sauce or gravy. Dark roux is typically used for gumbos.
When first making, the mixture will be thin, then will thicken as it cooks, becoming "blonde" roux; once it has reached the blonde stage, the mixture's binding power begins to lessen, and it becomes thin again, but darker.
Generally speaking, a dark roux is thinner and offers a more deep, robust flavor than white or blonde.
How to make white roux:
Combine equal parts of fat and flour; stir constantly on low heat 2-8 minutes. White roux is often used for thin sauces.
How to make a blonde roux:
Combine equal parts of fat and flour; stir constantly on low heat 8-20 minutes. Blonde roux is typically used for medium thick sauces, like for Crawfish Etouffee or Shrimp Etouffee.
How to make a dark roux:
Combine equal parts of fat and flour; stir constantly onlow heat 20-60 minutes. Dark roux is used for gumbo.
White roux is thin and used for white sauces, blonde roux is thicker than white and is used for thickening soups and stews, dark roux is the thinnest and is used primarily for adding a deep flavor to gravies and gumbos.
What sauces can I make from a white roux?
White roux and dairy (milk or cream) creates a basic white sauce, also known as Bechamel sauce, which is one of The Five Mother Sauces.
This is a basic white sauce, often used in vegetable dishes, or to thicken light colored soups or stews, such as potato soup or seafood chowder.
Once you learn how to make a roux, you can also make Southern style cream gravy. Heat the fat and flour, add milk, stir or whisk until it is smooth, season with salt and pepper.
What sauces can I make from blonde?
Blonde is a bit thicker than a white, so it has stronger binding properties. A perfect example of blonde is a Mornay, or cheese sauce, where shredded cheese is added to the blonde base.
If you want a fish, or Veloute sauce, add seafood stock to a blonde roux.
Blonde is an excellent basis for condensed "Cream of Chicken" soup; simply add a bit of chicken stock or broth to the blonde roux, allow it to cook for a few minutes, then incorporate into the soup/stew or casserole.
Sauces that use Dark Roux
Dark is used as the basis for Gumbo, which is French-Louisiana staple menu item, consisting of a dark broth with seafood and/or andouille sausage, onion, celery, bell pepper and okra.
Dark also makes an excellent brown gravy for coq a vin, braised pot roasts or hearty Chicken Stew!
Can I make it in advance?
Roux can be made in advance; once cooled, divide into portions and place in a securely sealed container. Refrigerate up to one week; frozen roux can be frozen up to six months.
Once you learn how to make a roux, feel free to explore the many different types of sauces, or create your own!
- Basic White Cream Sauce (Bechamel Sauce)
- Southern Cream Gravy
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- Homemade Condensed Soup
- 8 oz butter or oil
- 8 oz flour
- Melt butter or oil in saucepan8 oz butter or oil
- On low heat, gradually add flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon8 oz flour
- For a light roux: cook 2-8 minutesFor a blonde roux: cook 8-20 minutesFor a dark roux: cook 20-60 minutes
- Now that the roux is done, add either dairy, broth/stock or water to create the desired sauce
- Once the roux is cooked, you can add a liquid, (broth, dairy, water) to make a sauce. Use a whisk to remove any lumps from sauce