Roux is a mixture of flour and oil cooked on the stovetop to different stages. The darker the roux, the deeper and more complex its flavor becomes, taking on more pronounced toasty overtones the longer it is cooked. Roux is also used as a thickener. When making roux, you must stir, stir, stir, reaching into every corner of the pot, or else you will end up with some burnt bits, which will ruin its flavor.
Adapted from Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom From My Life In the Kitchen by Emeril Lagasse. Copyright © 2015 by Emeril Lagasse. Used with permission by Oxmoor House. All rights reserved.
- All-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil
Roux starts with flour and oil, usually in a 1:1 ratio. Combine them in a heavy-bottomed pot, like a cast iron or enameled cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Stir constantly over medium-high heat with a wooden spoon.
The roux is now starting to color ever so slightly, and is what is called a blonde roux. Blonde roux is used in preparations where you want the benefit of roux’s thickening properties but you don’t want it to affect the taste of the dish, like in a white sauce. If your recipe calls for a darker roux, turn the heat down now to medium or medium-low.
The roux has now cooked to the color of peanut butter. If your recipe calls for it to be cooked darker than this, be even more vigilant about stirring and paying attention to what is going on in the pot. If at any point you feel the roux is browning too fast, turn the heat down further.
The roux is now the color of a copper penny. You can stop here or you can continue to cook it until it is the color of milk chocolate, as called for in this gumbo. The best way to keep a roux from getting any darker is to have the vegetables and sausage prepped for the next step and to add them as soon as the desired color of roux is achieved; this will immediately drop the temperature of the roux.