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Paul Prudhomme's Roux

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Roux From: Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen ISBN 0-688-02487-0 A roux is a mixture of flour and oil. The cooking of flour and fat together to make a roux is a process that seems to go back as far as my ancestors of four hundred years ago. Traditionally, the fat used was animal fat, though today various oils are used, and the roux was, and often still is, made by very slow cooking. For example, when I was a boy, my mother used to start with a paste of animal fat and flour and cook it for several hours. Over the years I've developed a way to cook roux so it can be made in a matter of minutes, over very high heat, and with very few exceptions this is the method used in this book's recipes. The basic reason for making a roux is for the distinctive taste and texture it, lends to food, This roux taste and texture is characteristic of many dishes that Louisiana Cajuns make. The first few times, making a roux may seem difficult, and, certainly, using oil heated to over 500F has an element of danger to it. However, once you've made roux several times and become more accustomed to handling the high temperature, you will find it to be extremely rewarding because of the uniqueness of the finished product-and, as lagniappe, you're sure to get praise from everyone who tastes your cooking. How to Make a Roux A few overall points may be helpful: The usual proportion of oil to flour is fifty-fifty. Roux can be made in advance, cooled and then stored in an air tight jar for several days, in the refrigerator or at room temperature. If roux is made ahead, pour off excess oil from the surface and reheat (preferred), or let it return to room temperature before using. In general, light and medium-brown roux are used in sauces or, gravies for dark, heavy meats such as beef, with game such as elk and venison, and with dark-meat fowl such as duck, geese and blackbirds. They give a wonderful, toasted nutty flavor-just the right enhancement-to these sauces and gravies. Dark red-brown and black roux are used in sauces and gravies for sweet, light, white meats such as pork, rabbit, veal, and all kinds of freshwater and saltwater fish and shellfish. In addition, black roux are best to use in gumbos because the darkest roux result in the thinnest, best-tasting gumbos of all; but it takes practice to make black roux without burning them, and dark red-brown roux are certainly acceptable for any gumbo. You'll notice that I make exceptions to these general guidelines in some recipes. These Conceptions simply reflect my preference for the flavor of a particular roux with the combined flavors of the other ingredients in certain dishes. (For example, I prefer the flavor of a medium-brown roux in Grillades and Grits-a veal dish-and in Sticky Chicken, rather than a darker roux.) My approach to roux derives from the tradition of Cajun cooks, who view roux as being essentially of two types-medium brown and black; and who also classify meats as basically of two types-heavy, dark, somewhat bitter ones, and light, white, sweet ones. Traditionally, Cajun cooks use light roux with dark meats and dark roux with light meats. This is because they know intuitively, whether they can verbalize it or not, that these particular combinations lead to wonderful-tasting food. Working within this tradition, I've developed variations and given you in this book the roux-meat combinations which I think are best. You'll find that as you gain more experience and skill in making roux, you'll want to experiment with the, endless combinations of roux colors and the flavors of other ingredients you're using-especially meats-to find those combinations that excite your taste buds the most! Several words of advice are essential: 1) Cooked roux is called Cajun napalm in my restaurant's kitchen because it is extremely hot and sticks to your skin; so be very careful to avoid splashing it on you; it's best to use a long-handled metal whisk or wooden spoon. 2) Always begin with a very clean skillet or pot-preferably one that is heavy, such as cast iron (and never a non-stick type). If possible, use a skillet with flared sides because this makes stirring easier and thus makes it less likely the roux will burn. In addition, use a large enough skillet so that the oil does not fill it by more than one-fourth of its capacity. 3) The oil should be smoking hot before the flour is added. 4) Once the oil is heated, stir in the flour gradually (about a third at a time) and stir or whisk quickly and constantly to avoid burning the mixture. (Flour has moisture in it, and adding it to hot oil often creates steam-another good reason for using long-handled whisks or spoons.) 5) If black specks appear in the roux as it cooks, it has burned; discard it (place it in a heat-proof container to cool before discarding), then start the roux over again--c'est la vie! 6) As soon as the roux reaches the desired color, remove it from the heat; stir in the vegetables, which stop the burning process and enhance the taste of the finished dish, and continue stirring until the roux stops getting darker (at least 3 to 5 minutes). 7) While cooking roux (bringing it to the desired color), if you feel it is darkening too fast, immediately remove it from the heat and continue whisking constantly until you have control of it. 8) Care and concentration are essential for you to be successful with this fast method of making roux. Especially the first few times you make a roux, be certain that any possible distractions including children-are under control. In addition, have all cooking utensils and required vegetables or seasoning mixtures prepared ahead of time and near at hand before you start cooking. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - NOTES : I scanned Prudhomme's instructions for making roux. I had a heck of a time getting the OCR software to recognize the text. I don't know if it doesn't like the particular font or what. Anyway, here is his technique for making a fast roux. The reference to adding vegetables assumes you are making a typical Cajun dish which almost always has chopped celery, onions, and/or bell peppers.

Yield: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 0:00


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