For such a simple thing there seems to be much controversy on other forums about making a roux. I touched on this in another article on this blog. Roux is nothing more than equal amounts of starch and fat. I’m leaving those terms very generic as there are many types of either ingredient that can be used. Most commonly the starch element is all purpose flour but I’ve seen high powered chefs use other starches.
The fact component can be any of these and this is not an all inclusive list:
- bacon fat
- vegetable oil
- peanut oil
- rendered meat fat (think pan drippings)
The basics of making a roux is cooking your fat and flour together while constantly stirring (I use a whisk) until the desired color is achieved. Below are samples of the various stages a roux can achieve. Keep in mind that the darker the roux the less it can act as a thickening agent.
The lightest color roux would be appropriate to using in a cream sauce or cheese sauce. The darkest would be appropriate for a gumbo or other dark colored “gravy.”
Roux can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. How long? Never was an issue in my house as a roux tends to get used up quickly.
Don’t be afraid of the roux. Enjoy!