Roux is am important part of cooking for me. It is the beginning of the béchamel sauce that makes my mac-n-cheese thick and creamy. It thickens my soups and green chili. It is also the base to beautiful gravies.
Roux simply is a combination of equal parts liquid fat to flour. The purist version is butter and all-purpose flour but I use different oils, meat drippings and sometimes bacon fat combined with different flours to create different types of roux for different dishes. Many gluten-free flours work as well. The different combinations create different flavors and textures in the dishes.
The amount of cooking also creates different flavors and textures in dishes as well. Roux cooked to white stage is used in white sauces, some soups, stews and gravies. Medium roux is lightly brown and develops a slightly nutty flavor. Dark roux turns a beautiful dark brown like brown gravy. Making roux is easy but it does take patience and time. You must stir it or it will burn and the darker roux takes up to 35 or 40 minutes to develop.
Lighter roux have more thickening power than darker ones. As the flour darkens in the cooking process, it loses some of the starchy components that are so essential for thickening, so if using a darker roux, plan on needing more roux to achieve the same thickness you might achieve with much less of a lighter one.
Not cooking the flour long enough to lose the raw taste is one of the biggest mistakes many people make when making roux. The basic white roux takes about 5 to 6 minutes to complete. Just do not forget to stir. Stirring is the second most often mistake. Without it, your roux will burn. Finally, always use cold or room temperature liquid and add slowly, stirring constantly, to avoid lumps in your dish.
Once you understand roux is equals parts fat to flour, you never need a recipe. Just make what you need. I tend to use about 1 tablespoon of flour to 1 tablespoon of fat to one cup of liquid I am thickening. Heat a heavy pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add solid fat to melt or liquid fat to heat. Once hot, stir in equal parts flour and start stirring. I also like to add salt and my seasoning at this point.
Keep stirring until you reach the level of desired brownies: 5 to 6 minutes for white roux, 15-25 minutes for medium roux and 35 to 40 minutes for dark. Once roux is done, slowly add cold or room temperature liquid, stirring constantly to remove any lumps and incorporate the roux into the liquid. Add any other desired ingredients and serve.
Roux can be made ahead and placed in the fridge or frozen.
Instructions for making and recipes using roux