Roux (pronounced "roo") is simply white wheat flour browned in oil or animal fat. These roux making instructions will show you how to easily prepare it.
Roux serves as the base for most gumbo recipes where a rich, deep and hearty flavor and texture is desired. Experienced gumbo cooks will use it as the main thickener and will endeavor to make it as dark as possible.
The perfect color will be dark red brown or something close to milk chocolate or darker. Of course there are risks to getting it very dark. If it is burned the gumbo is ruined. Guaranteed. That can be an expensive and embarrassing mistake particularly if you are planning a dinner party. The secret to getting it right is to take your time and stir constantly.
These roux making instructions will ensure you avoid mistakes. For a traditional version always use white enriched bleached flour. The oil should be a vegetable oil like Crisco or corn oil (except when using butter in a light colored version). I have tried olive oil and I don't like the results. Olive oil will result in a gumbo with the flour separated in the liquid and will never produce the smooth velvety liquid required in a correct gumbo.
I use butter on a limited basis and only for the lighter colored versions as it can burn easily. Some recipes will use butter to saute okra.
Animal fats like lard or bacon grease will work fine and make for great results. Don't use peanut oil as I have found it separates from the roux early in the cooking process and tends to make globs.
Except for a select few recipes using butter, I will use vegetable oil or corn oil for my roux. It is inexpensive, consistent and makes your gumbo smooth, creamy and easy to handle. Corn oil is best.
All of the recipes found in this site will have the recommended oil to flour ratio. A rule of thumb is 1 cup of flour to 3/4 cup oil. This works great whether you are cooking for 10 or 100. More browned flour will yield a thicker and richer finished product. If your preference leans to the thinner consistency use less flour.
I have served a lot of gumbo to guests over the years and the richer ones are always preferred. Use the amount of flour and oil I recommend and you will be satisfied with the results.
Be prepared to take your time......
Allow one hour from start to finish. The more experienced you become
the faster you will get but please don't rush this until you have made
several batches. Remember to avoid burning you must stir constantly. If
you stop stirring the flour will burn. Never walk away from your roux.
No exceptions. Constant stirring yields success.
I like to use a wire whisk for stirring instead of a spoon
Always have your onions, celery and green pepper chopped and covered in a
dish before you start. The concept here is to put them into the roux
the moment it is the right color to avoid over cooking. When the
vegetables are added the roux mixture cools preventing the flour from
cooking further. This yields the best results.
Learn how to make a perfect gumbo by following these traditional roux making instructions.