Gimme a roux!
July 27, 2010, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Lunch, Pasta, Southern, Technique

A while back I pontificated on broth. Today, because I want to, is the day for pontificating on roux (pronounced ‘roo’). It’s one of those foundation things that if you know how to make it, you cn make all sorts of things from it, like sausage gravy to go on your biscuits, or a cream-of-something soup, or macaroni and cheese not from a box…anything that wants some thickening, nearly. Mom taught me how to make roux when I was 9 or 10, and it took a bit to get it right, but the ingredients are so simple, if you mess up a batch generally you can do it again without much cost or anxiety.

Here’s a basic recipe, it makes enough to thicken a pot full of cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese, or make cream-of-something soup for 6, or a nice pan of milk gravy.

1/4 cup of oil (or 1/2 a stick of butter. for cream of X soup I use vegetable oil, for milk gravy or mac n chz I prefer butter)
1/4 cup flour
That’s it.
Melt the butter (or heat the oil) and stir in the flour with a whisk. Stirring constantly, over medium-low heat, combine the oil and flour to make a paste, and keep stirring until the flour starts to brown and smell toasty.

Now, if you’re making something like gumbo, the rule is to have the roux the color of an old penny, dark brown. For milk gravy and cream soups, not so dark. Not even brown really, just cook it long enough to start to toast the flour around the edges ot the pot. Stir it constantly so you don’t get bits darker than other bits.

in my experience, the darker the roux, the less it thickens whatever it is you’re trying to thicken.

No, so you can go out and try this, I’m putting up a recipe for macaroni and cheese. It’s almost as easy as making the stuff from the box, and way tastier.

pasta and cheese

1 pound of pasta, cooked (I like shells because they act like cups and grab the sauce)

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
Make a roux as described above, in a medium sized pot. Then add
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon (or more, to taste) salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or more to taste)
Stir it all up real good. Then add
1-1/2 cups milk
Stir until it thickens.* If you are uncomfortable with how thick it is, add a bit more milk, a tablespoon at a time. Then add

2 generous handsful (I’m guessing about 2 cups) of shredded co-jack cheese. Throw in some sharp cheddar if you want a sharper flavor, or not..depending on your preference.

Stir until the cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you please. If it seems too thick, you can add a bit of milk.
Mix the sauce in with the hot cooked pasta. Pour into a well greased casserole dish and top with buttered bread crumbs (I save leftover garlic toast in the freezer, and make it into crumbs for topping stuff like this). Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until it’s bubbly and smells good.

*at this point you have milk gravy.You’ll probably want 2to 2-1/2 cups of milk here. You can add crumbled cooked sausage to serve on biscuits, if you want to make someone happy for brunch.

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2 Comments so far
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I swear, reading about roux is the food-enthusiast’s equivalent to Penthouse Forum. “If you’re making something like gumbo, the rule is to have the roux the color of an old penny, dark brown.” Now I have to go buy a trinity, more sausage than I think I’ll need, and as many shrimps as I can afford. Delight! Good writin’, lady.

Comment by emvandee

[…] sauce is just milk gravy made with roux: 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup flour 2 cups milk 1/2 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms melt the butter in a […]

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