Ridin' on empty: roux part deux

Just as a follow up to MAB’s post, I wanted to put up some pictures of a roux that we made for a recent gumbo. If you’ll recall the Seinfeld episode when Kramer and the guy from the car lot drove the demo until it ran out of gas, it’s like that. Go until you can’t stand it, then go a little more. “I’ve never felt so alive!”

For roux ingredients, you have some choices. It’s going to be about equal parts by weight of flour and fat (butter, oil, or animal fat), and the amount will vary on how much you’re going to make. A rough estimate is about 1-2 oz of fat to each quart of final product. I used either a 5.5 qt or 8qt enameled cast iron dutch oven and it’s pretty full. For that, I used a whole stick of unsalted butter, and I added flour to it until it had the consistency of something between heavy cream and pudding. Clarified butter might be better, but requires an extra step. I heated it up until it was barely bubbling, stirring the whole while for about 20-30 minutes, maybe longer.

White Roux

From Drop Box


Blond Roux

From Drop Box

Brown Roux

From Drop Box


Brick Roux/Dark Brown Roux

From Drop Box

It goes really slowly, then it goes really quick, as depicted above. That’s why you have to hover because there’s a fine line between perfect vs burnt and ruined. Rurnt. Also remember that it will continue to cook when you add the veggies.
The color should be more like chocolate sauce before you throw the trinity veggies in (onion, celery, green pepper). Throw the veggies in and give them a few minutes to soften, then add the stock. From there, add the meat in reverse order of cooking time. Whatever you can find in the bayou or the ditch out back will do. While you’re at it, throw some alligator meat in. I don’t think I’ve seen any recipes without Andouille sausage.

Final notes

  1. The roux provides taste, color, and thickening. Using a reduction method would require several gallons of stock and a lot of time, but could be done. Add okra if you can, because okra does the same with regard to thickening. Finally, file’ powder is added just prior to serving which has an interesting aromatic flavor, but also is a thickening agent. In the end, the consistency is up to you, but the thicker the better. Think stew, not soup.
  2. Oil-based roux is a little easier to work with because butter burns so easily. You can also work with it at higher temperature than you can the butter based roux.
  3. The darker the roux, the less the thickening, the more the flavor. If you want to go really dark, you’ll need more roux to get the same thickening.
  4. Black flecks=burned=throw it out, start over. Those burned pieces will make it taste awful. The flavor of the dark roux will be something like toasted chocolate coffee. With butter!
  5. The gumbo “base” is made when you soften your veggies and add stock and aromatics. From there it’s a matter of adding the meat. You can stop at this stage, simmer for an hour or two, depending on how meticulous you were with your stock.
  6. The next time I make it, I’m going to sautee the uncooked meats and add them with the cooking liquor/pan sauce towards the end. Again, the better the stock is to start with, the less you have to rely on the added meats to provide an extra layer of flavor.
  7. Adding beer is fine, but it’s probably a cheat to make the gumbo look darker. Think Abita Turbo Dog or Guinness, not Miller Lite.
  8. Does the technique of making a roux then adding a flavorful stock sound familiar? It should because it’s the basis of bechamel/veloute’. Gumbo is a veloute’ (roux + stock) based on a dark roux with Cajun/Creole veggies and meats, served over rice. Cajun style is dark, Creole is a little lighter, don’t forget the tomatoes.
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2 thoughts on “Ridin' on empty: roux part deux

  1. Pingback: soup weather | Big Dawg Eats

  2. Pingback: shrimp gumbo 5/12 | Big Dawg Eats

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