I came across a roux for the first time when I watched a family friend make gumbo. Now that I have made gumbo myself, that brief experience has come in handy. I was curious how else a roux could be used, so I did a little research. Here’s what I found, as well as what I’ve learned from my own experience making roux.
The purpose of roux
From what I understand, the flour binds to the fat. Once the roux is incorporated in the rest of the dish, the flour molecules stuck to it help thicken everything. The longer you cook the roux, however, the less the fat bonds to the flour. Therefore, the darker the roux, the less thickening power it has.
Even though a darker roux has less thickening power, there are benefits to having it cook longer. The more color the roux has, the more flavorful it will be. It takes on a toasted and nutty flavor, and adds a richness to the dish.
Darker roux = more flavorful, less thickening power
Ingredients of a roux
There are several different cuisines that use roux in cooking, and they typically have their own customs. At it’s core, a roux is a mixutre of fat and flour heated on the stove. What fat is used and how long it’s heated depend on what you are making.
As there are so many different fats used in cooking, there are so many possibilites for making a roux. Some options I’ve come across are butter, oil, lard, fat, or beef tallow.
Although I do have all purpose flour in my pantry, I try to only use it in case of emergency. Therefore, I wanted to see what other flours would make a good roux. Spelt, white and regular whole wheat, and brown rice flour have all been said to yield good resuts. However, rye and many others in my research are still inconclusive. Find more on this topic below:
Roux is not something used in American cooking, and has been attributed to the French. There are many different dishes that use a roux, each requiring it be done a certain way.