Friday, November 21, 2008

Adventures with Roux

As another batch of gumbo simmers away on the stovetop, I'd like to reflect, for a moment, on the numbness in my right arm caused by 45 minutes of uninterrupted stirring, trying to make sure my roux didn't burn.

For those unsure of just roux is or what it does, it's easy: heat equal parts of flour and oil over medium heat, while stirring continuously. Then it's just a matter of cooking until it reaches the color you want:

Clockwise from top is a white roux, a blonde roux and a brown roux. White roux is used when making things like bechamel sauce when you're cooking macaroni and cheese. Blonde roux is used for cooking...well...I honestly don't know. Brown roux is used in old-school things like espagnole sauce, but is used commonly in Cajun cuisine.

The thing about roux is this: the darker it gets, the hotter it becomes. When I was stirring up the roux when it was at the white roux stage, a couple of drops would splatter on my knuckles, with no harm done. However, by the time I was getting into the blond/brown transition, every tiny drop was absolute agony! Needless to say, my stirring became much more deliberate and careful.

The other problem with making dark roux is the fact that it takes forever, which has led to my arm being numb and my right hand barely able to type because it's so cramped up from holding a wooden spoon. Not fun.

On a side note, I reread my Top Chef recap from yesterday, and I realized I need to clean up a few things, namely repeating words in the same sentence, and fizzling out at the end of the post. I'll lock it down better next week.