Roux (pronounced "roo") is a thickening agent for soups and sauces with roots dating back more than 300 years in French cuisine. Made by cooking a flour and oil paste until the raw flavor of the flour cooks out and the roux has achieved the desired color, a properly cooked roux imparts silky-smooth body and a nutty flavor while thickening soups and sauces. This is a great recipe to have on hand because you can store it and always have some for later on for your next gravy or soup!
Since an oil-based roux separates as the flour settles to the bottom, clarified butter is preferred when making roux for future use, as it will harden when refrigerated, trapping the flour in suspension. This suspension helps to prevent lumps when the roux is whisked into a sauce or soup. Having a well-made roux on hand will make it easy to use this marvelous thickener in everyday cooking. In this demonstration, we will make a blond roux, which is the most commonly used.
Begin making the roux by melting 1 cup of clarified butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is hot enough that a pinch of flour sprinkled into it will slowly start to bubble, proceed to the next step.
Whisk 1-3/4 cups of flour into the clarified butter until a thick, rough paste forms. Whisk constantly while it bubbles over medium heat. As it cooks, the roux will become smooth and begin to thin.
The white stage is reached once the flour loses its raw smell, after about 5 minutes of cooking and stirring. Although slightly grainy in texture, it is much smoother than it was at the beginning. The mixture is bubbling vigorously and the color is a little paler than when the clarified butter and flour were first combined.
After about 20 minutes of continuous cooking and stirring, the roux will reach the blond stage. The bubbles are beginning to slow, and the aroma has taken on nuances of popcorn or toasted bread. The roux is now tan colored, very smooth, and thinner than it was at the white stage.
Carefully pour the finished roux onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to cool.
Refrigerate the roux for several hours or overnight until it has hardened completely. Once hardened, it is easily pried off of the baking sheet and broken into pieces.
Roux will keep indefinitely when stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. With perfectly prepared roux always on hand, making luxuriously silky soups and sauces will be a breeze!