Roux (pronounced "roo") is a basic thickening agent, which is used in many of my upcoming cream soup, Newburg, bisque, and gumbo recipes. Once you learn how to make roux, it will quickly become a staple item in your kitchen.
Louise’s Basic Roux
1 1/2 cup Olive oil, canola Oil, melted margarine (no transfat) or melted butter
2. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring gently but constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping roux from bottom and sides of skillet. If any lumps develop, whisk with a wire whisk until they break up.
3. Cook until the color is white, blond, brown, or dark brown mahogany depending on your tastes. I like to use a medium light brown tan color. This will take from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your pan, the heat of your stove, and your desired strength. Be patient. Brown and dark brown roux have more flavor, but less thickening power than white or blond roux. They are primarily used in Cajun and Creole dishes, most notably, gumbo and jambalaya.
4. After the roux is done, remove from heat to cool, but keep stirring constantly for the first few minutes. Then stir frequently for 10 minutes longer, since roux will continue to cook from its own heat for a few minutes. As the roux cools, some of the oil will float to the top. As it sits, the flour will begin to settle to the bottom. Stir the oil back into the flour before using, as this will make the roux dissolve smoothly. If you decide to pour off the oil, the roux will still work, but will require more whisking into a sauce in order to fully dissolve.
5. After the roux has cooled, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate. Roux will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer until ready for use. Roux made with vegetable oil can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, but roux made with butter or fat should always be refrigerated. In my kitchen the roux was kept refrigerated in blocks and we grated (with a cheese grater or food processor) off what we needed for each recipe. Grated bits of roux whisked into your broth or hot liquid will dissolve easier and with less lumps than if you just throw a block of it into your dish!
6. Usage: Roux begins to thicken soon after it is combined with a liquid, but your dish should be simmered for 10 to 20 minutes in order to reach its full flavor and thickening potential. This additional cooking time allows the flour to soften and absorb the liquid, resulting in a silky smooth soup or sauce. If the simmering time is too short, the flour in the roux will remain grainy. Good luck!