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!
What is a roux?
Pronounced "ro͞o", 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.
How to make roux?
Melt the fat first, then sprinkle in an equal amount of flour or cornstarch, stirring constantly. Fat can be butter, oil or meat drippings. Sprinkle in equal amounts of flour or cornstarch and whisk. This initial step cooks the raw flour or cornstarch. 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.
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. 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.
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 a cream gravy. Heat the fat and flour, add milk, stir or whisk until it is smooth, season with salt and pepper.
A great substitute for canned condensed soups
A white roux can also substitute for condensed soup in a recipe. For instance, if the recipe calls for "Cream of Celery Soup", simply prepare the mixture and add sauteed chopped celery, salt and pepper. Same concept for "Cream of Mushroom"--add sauteed mushrooms to the white roux.
When seafood stock or broth is added, it is termed Veloute sauce which is the 2nd of The Five Mother Sauces.
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 Mornay sauce, where cheese is added to the blonde base. If you prefer a thicker Veloute sauce, add seafood stock to a blonde roux. A popular Veloute sauce for fish is a creamy lemon-dill sauce.
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 dish.
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!
- 8 oz butter
- 8 oz flour
- Melt butter in saucepan
- Gradually add flour, stirring constantly
- For a light roux: cook 2-5 minutesFor a blonde roux: cook 5-8 minutesFor a dark roux: cook 8-10 minutes
- 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