You are here: HomeCooking TipsFirst You Make A Roux
Many recipes from South Louisiana start with "first you make a roux".

Classical cookbooks written as far back as the mid-1500s state that roux is derived from the Frenchroux 1 word "rouge" meaning "red" or "reddish" in color.

For gumbos, for instance, Creole cooks tend to prefer a blond or medium roux, where Cajun cooks tend to prefer a very dark roux, which is wonderfully smoky tasting. There are, of course, exceptions to this. In fact, you'll see people making many different "levels" of roux. Blond, light brown, medium-light brown, medium brown/"peanut butter" or "copper penny", and dark browns that range from the color of milk chocolate to the color of bittersweet chocolate.
 
If you are a beginner at roux, start out with a half flour, half oil mixture. The more oil you use the less roux 2likely it will burn too fast. As you get better at it you can use less oil. Add the oil and flour to the pot and set the fire on medium. My best roux's were made in a cast iron pot or cast iron skillet.    NEVER USE A NON STICK PAN TO MAKE A ROUX, you will just wind up ruining the non stick surface and have bits of the coating in your food....blech.  

Using a wood spoon, paddle or a metal spatula or "egg turner", stir the roux scraping the entire bottom of the pot every time. Using a spatula allows you to move all of the mixture around and you don't have to make more than a few passes to do it. Stir the mixture every 15 seconds or so to start and then continuously as it cooks. 

The roux will bubble at first then will get smooth as it cooks. Preparation of a roux is dependent on cooking time; the longer you cook, the darker the roux. A blond roux will only take four or five minutes; a roux 2dark roux up to 20 or 25 minutes at high heat, or up to an hour at low heat.  Roux must be stirred constantly to avoid burning.  Constantly means not stopping to answer the phone, let the cat in, or flip the LP record over, and if you've got to go the bathroom ... hold it in or hand off your whisk or spatula  to someone else.   Cooking time will vary according to the type of pot and the source of heat. The governing factor is the color not the time.    So, if you are planning to make a really dark roux best to have a glass of wine or a beer handy to help pass the time  ;-)

 If you see black specks in your roux the roux has been burned, sorry but you must throw it out and start over because it will be bitter and awful tasting.

As the roux turns browner lower the fire a little. Burning a roux after you've stood there stirring for a while  could have detrimental effects on the your dogs' rear end!  When you're stirring your roux, be very careful roux 4not to splatter any on you. It's extremely hot, and it sticks. They don't call it Creole napalm for nothing ... I have little burn scars on my forearms from whenever I got sloppy with the stirring.

Certain dishes (like crawfish étouffée) would benefit from a butter-based roux, but if you're going to make a dark roux, this will take a long time. Butter roux must be cooked at low to low-medium heat, or the butter will scorch. Darker roux are better suited to being made with oil.

So grab your cast iron skillet, or good stainless steel one and try your hand at making roux.  It's fun to do and the flavors and aromas you will add to your dishes are amazing.