Roux is that essential part that makes every stew hearty and delicious. This combination of flower and fat improves the flavor and the texture of your dish and helps make the ultimate comfort food we all crave, especially now when colder days have arrived.
Making roux can be confusing to those new in the kitchen. However, it’s quite simple to make proper roux when you follow the basic principles of it. Below, we will help clarify the confusion and answer all the common questions about making a roux.
- 1 Can You Use Self Rising Flour to Make a Roux?
- 2 What Is The Purpose of a Roux?
- 3 How Do You Make a Roux?
- 4 What Makes Roux Lumpy?
- 5 What Is The Difference Between Bechamel and Roux
Can You Use Self Rising Flour to Make a Roux?
Traditionally, all-purpose four is used to make a roux. In fact, if you ask many experienced cooks around the world, they would tell you that you must never use any other type of flour, especially not self-rising flour.
Self-rising flour contains salt and leavening agents such as baking powder that causes bread and other baked goods to rise beautifully. Because of these ingredients, it is believed that self-rising flour affects the flavor of the roux.
Opinions differ on whether it is acceptable to use self-rising flour when making a roux but our verdict is: yes, you can. In our experience, the difference in flavor is hardly noticeable. Using self-rising flour instead of regular flour might cause slightly more bubbles in the beginning but the overall flavor and texture shouldn’t be affected. This type of roux will still be efficient for thickening broths and stews.
More importantly, if you’re in the middle of making a stew and you don’t have any regular four on hand, it’s only logical to use the one you do have instead. You will hardly notice any difference in taste and texture. You might as well give it a try and see for yourself.
What Is The Purpose of a Roux?
The main purpose of a roux is to thicken sauces, gravies, soups, broths, and similar dishes that require thickening. Adding the roux to soups and stews is what gives them the creaminess and the thick texture we enjoy.
However, roux does more to your dishes than simply thickening its texture. It also adds a flavor that comes from the wonderful combination of bread and butter (or oil, but more on that later). To put it simply, no gravy or stew would ever be half as tasty without a roux. It’s practically a must-have for all types of creamy dishes.
How Do You Make a Roux?
To make a roux, you need a few ingredients only, basic skills, and a little patience. However, before we commence, let us mention the fact that roux-makers around the world differentiate between several types of roux: white, blonde, brown, and dark. The kind you will make depends on the dish you’re preparing because different types of dishes require different roux. However, the principle of making the roux is the same, all that’s different is the amount of time it takes for the roux to get the golden brown or dark color you want.
Most recipes for making a roux require butter, but you can use vegetable oil instead. Butter has a deeply rich flavor which is why it is preferred by traditional cooks, but making a roux with oil will bring about the same result.
The instructions below are for the basic, white roux. Making a roux requires equal amounts of flour and liquid.
- All-purpose flour
- Butter or oil
Step 1. Use a saucepan or a heavy skillet to melt the butter or the oil over medium heat.
Step 2. Slowly add flour, salt, and pepper whisking the mixture constantly using a rubber spatula.
Step 3. Reduce the heat and cook for about 2 minutes while stirring it. The roux should appear foamy and should resemble a paste.
If you’re looking for a browned, more flavorful roux, you should keep cooking and stirring for a few minutes longer. It takes about 10 minutes to get a blonde or slightly brown roux while for a dark roux, the cooking time is about 30 minutes.
White roux is best at thickening dishes and is frequently used in white sauces. The darker the roux, the more flavor and aroma it has. It might not be as good at thickening sauces as white roux, but it gives a dish an incredibly tasty, nutty aroma.
Tip: If you’re making a brown or dark roux, we recommend using oil instead of butter because your roux won’t burn.
What is The Ratio of Flour to Oil
When making a roux, the usual recommendation is to always use equal amounts of butter and flour or a 1:1 ratio. This is also very easy to remember and hard to mess up if you’re making a roux for the first time.
However, you’ll find that different recipes call for different butter-flour ratio. This may depend on personal preferences but we find that using equal measures of butter and flour work perfectly.
You can use slightly more flour than butter though. The most important thing is that there is enough butter to coat the flour. If there is not enough butter, the roux will be lumpy.
Also, if your dish requires a thinner roux, you can use less flour.
What Determines the Color of a Roux
As we previously explained, the color of the roux can range from white, blonde, brown, to dark brown. The color of the roux is determined by the duration of cooking. The longer you cook the roux, the darker it gets.
If your recipe calls for a darker roux, make sure to follow the instructions for making a brown roux. White sauces such as bechamel usually require a light-colored roux.
What Makes Roux Lumpy?
One of the most common problems culinary enthusiasts experience when making a roux is lumpiness. If your roux is lumpy, it is probably because you used too much flour and not enough butter or oil to evenly coat the flour. This results in lumps and a not so good roux.
How Do You Fix Lumpy Roux?
If your roux is getting lumpy, don’t fret. There is an easy way to fix that so you don’t have to throw it all away and make a new roux from scratch. The key is to add more liquid and continue whisking the mixture right up until you remove the roux from the stovetop.
However, another important thing is to consider using a whisk instead of a spatula because it’s much easier to break down the lumps.
How to Avoid Lumps When Making Roux
The best way to avoid lumps when making a roux is to follow the instructions and stir the mixture frequently. If you notice that there isn’t enough liquid to coat the flour so the roux may get lumpy, add a bit more liquid and continue stirring.
You can add more butter or oil, depending on what you’re using for the recipe.
What Is The Difference Between Bechamel and Roux
You’ve probably heard many people mistake roux for bechamel and vice versa. This is nothing uncommon, though experienced cooks know the difference between the two.
A roux is a mixture made of equal amounts of butter or oil and flour. It is used for thickening sauces and gravies.
Bechamel is a type of sauce similar to roux but involves the addition of milk. After melting the butter and flour and stirring it, milk is added to create a creamy white sauce. Bechamel is used as a basis for various types of dishes including for pasta and the classic as mac ‘n’ cheese.