Down here in South Louisiana there are some things that just go together… football, fall temperatures, and gumbo. Along with gumbo, the cooler weather screams for seafood courtbouillon (pronounced COO-be-yon), chicken or meatball fricassee, and various stews, soups, and gravies. And as the ol’ Cajun cooks will say, “first, you make a roux, ma’ cher” (pronounced roo, ma sha). According to my River Road Recipes from 1954 traditional roux is made using flour and fat-either butter, shortening, or bacon drippings. However in recent times, roux is typically made from all purpose flour and vegetable oil, or conveniently purchased pre-prepared in a jar made from enriched flour, GMO oil (cottonseed or corn oil), and hydrogenated palm oil. So needless to say, I am out to find many ways to make a healthier version of roux. So I started experimenting.
- 1/2 cup palm oil and 1 cup Arrowhead Mills brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup pastured, rendered lard and 1 cup [Pamela’s (gluten-free) Artisan blend flour
- 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten free all -purpose flour
- To make a roux, it takes time, love, and tenderness. It’s very easy to make, but it can go bad quickly.
Here’s how it goes:
1. You start by melting the fat.
2. Keeping the flame on low you add flour and mix well until the combination turns into a thick, smooth consistency like cake frosting.
3. And then keeping the flame on low you stir, and stir, and stir, and when you think it’s done, you continue to stir essentially slowly browning the flour without allowing it to burn. You can make a light roux which looks like peanut butter, or a dark roux which, as pictured above, looks like chocolate cake batter (but don’t start licking the spatula because it doesn’t taste like cake batter, take my word for it). Be careful not to burn it. “If there is even the slightest indication of over-browning, dispose of the roux and start over. Even the slightest burned sauce will ruin a savory dish” a la River Road Recipes.
4. To this basic roux, you add the sauteed “holy trinity”-onions, bell peppers, celery-broth or water, salt, cayenne pepper, and eventually meat to make various sauces, soups, and stews.