Learn Something New - Using a Roux

>> Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This simple technique is a must-know for any Kitchen Queen. Let me preface this by saying that I know now with a surety that I'm a mother, because I always think of Winnie-the-Pooh when I say "roux", and I'm always tempted to spell it Roo. Yes, I know it's pathetic. I do that with other words, too. Like every time someone says, "That's ridiculous!" or "Are you serious?", I always revert back to Harry Potter mode. Poor Sirius. I cried. Did you?

Anyway, a roux is a mixture of fat and flour or cornstarch and water and is used to thicken sauces. The first thing to learn is when to use flour and when to use cornstarch. If my sauce starts with melting butter in a pan (to sautée onions in perhaps), I'll add flour to the butter. For alfredo sauce or cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese, I'll always use flour, since those sauces start with a melted butter (fat) base. If I'm making say an Oriental type dish, like the Mongolian Beef I made earlier this week, cornstarch and water is the go-to-roux. I love random rhymes. I also love alliteration. Back on topic. If I'm cooking in the crock pot, cornstarch and water is the roux of choice there as well.

If your recipe doesn't allow for time to cook the flour in the fat to get rid of the flour taste, use cornstarch and water. If it's a fat based sauce, flour is best because the flour takes on this delish nutty flavor after you cook it, and there's just no replacement for that. That said, I tend to prefer to use cornstarch and water instead. It's just easier in my mind. It mixes in easier, and I don't have to worry about any raw taste.

Like I said, it's important to cook the flour in the fat for a few minutes before you whisk in your liquid. Most recipes call for equal parts fat and flour, but I tend to go a bit heavier on the fat or a bit lighter on the flour. I don't like the roux to get all thick because then I have a hard time not having lumps in my liquid.

For the cornstarch and water roux, I use equal parts cornstarch and water. I just use my finger to dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Most recipes will be fine with just a 1 tablespoon ratio, but sometimes I need to up it to 2 tablespoons to get the desired thickness.

If you add too much roux, whether it's flour or cornstarch, just thin your sauce out with more liquid (chicken broth, water, milk, whatever). No harm done.

Woohoo for the Roux!


~April~ July 30, 2008 at 10:04 PM  

Ha ha. I love it. I didn't even know it had a name, really. And I used it tonight making my soup... go figure.

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