One of the fundamental techniques to know, this is the base to so many dishes.
You’ve seen it, tasted it, and can most definitely make it yourself. A Roux is one of those rare instances where a French concept sounds way more complicated than it actually is, but really, it’s a breeze to make. Roux is the foundation of sauces, soups and stews. It’s the bottom line in dishes like macaroni and cheese or gumbo and the foundation of one of the five mother sauces - bechamel.
It's essentially a mixture of fat and flour that is cooked out until flour loses its ‘raw’ taste and the fat is fully incorporated. After this stage, a liquid is added that determines what direction the roux is going, for example, milk means bechamel or stock usually means gravy.
There are four main types of roux which are white, blond, brown and dark. They’re all made with the same ingredients – fat and flour – but their properties are determined by their cooking time.
A white roux is the most basic, but it also has the best thickening ability. This roux is only cooked for about 2-3 minutes to get rid of the flour’s rawness.
Blond roux are allowed to develop a little longer (around 5-10 mins) until they take on a more nutty finish. This stage is often needed to create a veloute, one of the other five mother sauces.
A Brown roux is even more deeply flavoured, after 20 - 30 minutes of cooking, the smokiness of this roux lends itself perfectly to sauces like espagnole.
The final stage – the dark roux is the most flavourful of all being cooked for around 45 minutes and in need of constant stirring. Many choose to use oil instead of butter at this stage, to prevent the butter from burning. Thick and smokey, it doesn’t have much thickening power since the starch has broken down, but it lends the dish an incredible flavour.
With this simple mixture, you have the beginnings of infinite delicious dishes.