Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Easy Dark Oven Roux

A dark roux is essential to a good southern gumbo, but it's time consuming, you can get burned easily, or worse, burn the roux and have to start over. This easy oven method really simplifies roux making & you can make it ahead & store!

How to Make an Easy Dark Oven Roux


See that chocolately brown jar of lovely goodness? This, my friends, is pure gold to a southern cook! What is it you say? It is a deep, dark red Cajun roux, and one that is most appropriate for gumbos or meaty stews. It's a roux that is time consuming to achieve on the stove top, taking a great deal of patience, and a lot of attention to get to the right color without burning it or yourself.

A roux is nothing more than flour that has been browned in some form of fat, usually oil, but sometimes butter. Most cooks have used some form of roux in order to create sauces and gravies - generally a basic white sauce known as bechamel. This type of roux is cooked off only long enough to cook the raw flour, generally about 5 minutes or so, and though there is little to no color, it carries a strong thickening power to the dish.

A darker colored roux, however, acts not only as a thickener, but also adds additional flavor and imparts a deeper, richer color to the dishes where it is used as a base. It's a classic ingredient in many Cajun style dishes. And, when you need a dark roux and don't want to fool with all that cookin' and stirrin' and cookin' and stirring' and popping oil that, if you're like me, gives you roux blisters all across your knuckles, did you realize it's so easy to cook it in the oven? Course this works great for any color roux in between too, you'll just need to watch the color and stop it where you want it, but when you want a dark roux, the oven just makes it a breeze. And the best part is that you can make it ahead of time and store it till ya need it!

Remember though that the longer the roux cooks, it also loses some of its thickening power, so you have to factor that into the recipe that you are using it for. That's one reason you often see file powder (ground sassafras leaves) or okra (and sometimes even both) used in gumbos that use a darker colored roux.

To make an oven roux you'll start it first on the stovetop. Now, you can follow these same steps essentially if you want to do the roux fully on top of the stove. You'll just simply need to stand there and keep stirring, constantly, until it reaches the desired color. Rather than using the wire whisk here however, switch to a spoon since you'll literally be in the roux the entire time. The process needs to go low and slow so that you don't burn it, so it can take upwards of 45 minutes to more than an hour to get a deep, rich roux without burning it.

Either way though, oven or stovetop, you'll start them on the stove. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet or pot over medium high heat. Sprinkle a little flour in the hot oil to test it. If the flour begins to bubble, the oil is ready. Begin adding all of the flour a little at a time, whisking it in until all of the flour is fully incorporated.


Carefully transfer the pot or skillet to the oven and bake it to the desired color. It's as simple as that! Now, you'll be checking the roux about every 20 minutes so that you can whisk it, but it sure beats standing over a hot stove for sure. This roux pictured below is a light roux. It's achieved a peanut butter color in about 20 minutes time and would be appropriate for stews and even crawfish.


After 40 minutes in the oven, the roux has darkened to a medium color that is typically used as a base in another dish. This color works well with many types of seafood stews and dishes.


After an hour in the oven the roux has darkened just slightly more to the darker side of medium and is beginning to pick up a reddish tinge to it. It is still at the stage of a medium color and can be utilized the same as the lighter medium color above.


This darker color below was achieved at about a total of 1-1/2 hours in the oven. This color roux is best for meatier dishes and both seafood and chicken gumbos.


If you are not immediately using this roux, once you remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool, you'll need to keep stirring it occasionally since cast iron will retain heat for awhile and keep cooking the roux. If the roux is the color you want when you remove it, and you do not want it to darken further, you'll need to very carefully transfer it to a new pot or container for it to cool so that it does not darken further. I left this in the skillet and as you can see the color is just a bit deeper and richer, exactly what I wanted to achieve.



Recipe: Easy Dark Oven Roux

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: Depends

Ingredients
  • Equal amounts of canola or vegetable oil
  • Equal amounts of all purpose flour
  • Cast iron pot or skillet
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 to 375 degrees. I find my oven needs to be just slightly under 375 degrees. Start the roux on the stovetop to get it going, preferably in a cast iron pot, by heating the oil to medium high, then reduce to medium and gradually whisk in the flour a little at a time until fully incorporated. Carefully transfer the pot into the hot oven and cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring about every 20 minutes, until the roux turns a deep, dark, chocolate brown.

Once roux is ready, place the pot over medium heat and add the vegetables, proceeding with the rest of the recipe as directed, or if you aren't using it right away, remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely. Continue stirring occasionally since the cast iron will retain the heat for a while.

To Store: Keep cooled roux in a glass container or mason jar in the fridge till needed. Some say you can keep roux indefinitely, but I'd say try to use it refrigerated within 4 to 6 months, frozen not longer than 8 or 9 months, for best quality. Freeze the cold roux in ice cube trays until solid, then pop out and bag for anytime you need a few tablespoons of roux. Let thaw first, or if using from refrigerated, always bring to room temperature before using.

Bring refrigerated stored roux up to room temperature before using.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
Check These Recipes Out Too!

10 Minute Microwave Roux
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Posted by on March 3, 2009
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50 comments:

  1. WOW!! Does this really work? I'm sure going to try? Love the very detailed way you have presented this recipe. What a great idea. Thank you, s

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  2. Yep, it sure does! That jar was from this whole tutorial process. I know... ain't it great??!!

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  3. Great website!
    Cooking seems definetely to be your passion. Nice that you have gathered tips and share them with us.
    I've found a lot of recipes on your blog that look awesome and that I have never tasted...

    Hope you will disclose more secrets of the southern kitchen!

    Thank you.

    Greetings from Germany.

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  4. I'm new to baking a roux. Am I supposed to cover the cast iron pan while it is in the oven? I'm always afraid of flareups when cooking on the stovetop.

    Thanks

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  5. Nope! You cook it uncovered. Just don't try to make the roux in a tiny pot & be sure to only use cast iron. Take care when removing the hot skillet from the oven when you stir. Pot holders & oven mitts are a necessity!!

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  6. Mary,
    Just finished making this oven roux and it turned out just as you said!!! Beautiful chocolate color. One question, how much can I safely make using this method. Just did one cup each, flour & oil this first time. Thinking maybe 5 cups flour 5 cups oil?? I realize it might require a bit longer cooking time?
    Thanks, Sue

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  7. Hi Sue! I haven't ever made that much at once but it really doesn't expand so as long as you use a cast iron kettle type of deep pot, it should work with just a little longer time added. Isn't it a great and easy way to get a nice dark roux - minus the roux burns?!!

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  8. I love this to death!!! I have my roux in the oven right now!! I have a daughter on a ventilator and she requires 24 hour care. My family loves gumbo so I make it often. It's very hard to make a roux on the stove top when I have to leave real quick from the kitchen to tend to her. I will never ever make a roux on the stove top again! Thanks for the great recipe!

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  9. You're so very welcome - it really is a great method. Not having to stand over it is just one reason that I love doing it in the oven! God bless you for what you do - HUGS!!

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  10. Can you use butter instead of the oil for the oven roux? I like the flavor of the butter better!

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  11. Oh me too!! I would not typically use butter with a dark roux though - it just won't hold up to the heat levels required to get that dark rich color so I reserve butter only for a lighter roux. That said, I have not tried butter with this oven method. If you try it, would you let me know?

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    Replies
    1. Try clarified butter...unbelievable. Enhances every dish!

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  12. Thank you for all your help in allowing me to be able to make dishes from my child hood when my grand mother passed people from her church cleaned out all her hand written cook book she had for her 99 years she lived on this planet. She grew up in Gulfport ms she was a Duckworth and married an moved to Memphis Tn. Thanks again love Phil

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    Replies
    1. Oh no Phil! That is such a shame. I'm happy to be a source for some of those old recipes but so sorry that you didn't get those cookbooks. Maybe one day you'll have them back. I had a Duckworth at a teacher in high school! Wonder if she was related?

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  13. I was always taught to save up my bacon "drippings" and use that in making my roux. I've never had complaints. Is that acceptable? I definitely need to try the oven method as there are always too many interruptions. Love your recipes and ideas.

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    1. Absolutely Judy, and it does add a wonderful flavor you miss with plain oil, though I usually use oil for the bigger roux & save up my bacon drippings for a smaller roux like for gravy. I find that a lot of folks don't really keep bacon drippings these days, except for frying up a few slices specifically for a recipe. The oven roux is fantastic - hope you give it a try!

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  14. I am not a "southerner" but love gumbos and was just making sure of the measurements. I put equal flour to oil, i.e. 1 cup flour=1cup oil? Is that correct

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  15. Hey Mary, nice job! As someone with permanent scars from making roux, I can relate to the oven method! I usually use that when making a lot of it, but I do like the stovetop method, burns and all. Something about stirring that roux and havin a few beers makes it all something more than cooking, you breath life into an age old southern cooking method, and your house smells like south Louisiana!
    Wanted to mention that these days I do two things with my roux that give it more versatility, first when making a big batch, I scoop some out when it's barely peanut butter, that still has thickening ability and that level flavor. Then I keep cooking the rest, usually to maroon or better. Then you can mix the two and get a flavor and thickness profile that you cant get with just one roux.
    The second thing is when done, I pour the roux right out on a big stack of paper towels and most of the oil will run right out of it after about 30 minutes of cooling. It gets firm, is SO much easier to handle and use. It doesn't put all that oil into my gumbo, and it breaks up beautifully as you add it to the pot and test it. Also so easy to freeze, can put it in baggies no problem! Also for beginners, it's OK to use a little more oil, which makes it so much easier to cook, because you are going to drain it off anyway!

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  16. My Godmother is from Louisiana and we look forward to it every year at Christmas. But, she has not yet shared it and I don't think she will since she has been making it for over 50 years and hasn't shared it yet. lol I have been craving gumbo, especially after having surgery and this will be an easier method for me to make it. Thanks so much for sharing

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  17. Thanks so much for this recipe. I have been craving gumbo but I knew I couldn't make the roux since I just had surgery. Now with this and your gumbo recipe, I don't have to wait for the once a year treat of gumbo made by my godmother. She has not shared her recipe after making it for over 50 years and right now I don't think she will :) Thanks again and I will come back and tell you how it went. Gumbo here I come lol

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  18. Today I am making gumbo and have heard about the oven method but was not sure how to make it. So after some searching I found your site. I now have the roux in the oven. I am excited to see how it turns out. Thanks for the lesson. It's valuable information. In the meantime I can do a little cleaning, drink hot chocolate as I watch the snow falling outside my window and of course run back and forth to check on the roux. You are my new hero. Blessings.

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    1. Oh, I wish we had some snow!! We've had a cool spell since Christmas, but it actually warmed up today to near 60 degrees. Please let me know what you think of the oven roux & Happy New Year!!

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  19. Hi Mary,just wanted to let you know that the roux came out perfect. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks again and happy new year.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome!! Most people who try it never do it stovetop again. It'll keep for awhile in the fridge which makes it real handy to make up ahead. Happy New Year!!

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  20. I love Gumbo (I'm from East Texas with Cajun roots), but I hate making roux! I found your recipe, and it was awesome! Mine browned super fast in a 370 degree oven-- I had perfect chocolate roux in 45 minutes! Maybe it was the enamel Dutch oven I used? Anyway-- thanks for the recipe!

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    1. Wow that was fast! I've not used the enameled cast iron so could be the difference I guess. Anyway, gotta love the oven version - sure beats those roux burns I always end up getting!

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  21. Thanks! I am making gumbo tomorrow and now I can make my roux tonight! How much do you use in a pot of gumbo? If you make a lot to store, is there a certain amount to use for a typical pot of gumbo? 1/2 cup? More?

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    1. It just depends on how much gumbo you're making and how thick you like it, but start with about a tablespoon of prepared roux per quart. Heat up half of the water to a boil, then stir in the roux and let that cook on it's own to dissolve good for about 20-30 minutes. Then go forward with your recipe.

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  22. I LOVE YOUR SITE!!! :)
    Your recipe is perfect. I made my roux in exactly 50 minutes. It is a very dark brown roux and it smells heavenly. Please tell me how to add the veggies to the roux when I cook the gumbo. I made this roux in advance and will store it until next week. SHould I have added the veggies to get better flavor? Do I heat up the roux again and then add the veggies?? Any advice you give (or anyone) will be deeply appreciated.
    Thank you soooooo much for this roux recipe. It could not have turned out more perfect!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Isn't it much easier and sure beats those roux burns!! On the veggies, since you're premade the roux, you can simply saute them in a little butter to soften them, then proceed with adding the roux and stock or broth.

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  23. Merry Christmas Mary.

    I just pulled roux from the oven for our post Christmas turkey gumbo. Thank you so much for all the effort you devote to this blog. You are a resource I know I can count on, I am not sure I can express how much I value that.

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    Replies
    1. What temperature do you set your oven for when using a cast iron skillet?

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    2. That really depends mostly on the age & efficiency of your oven. You'll really just have to experiment so I'd start somewhere in the middle of 350 to 375 degrees F for the first time you do it and if you felt it took too long, increase it the next time.

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  24. Whenever I cook fried pork chops, country fried steaks or fried anything, I save the excess oil and use that to make my roux. Of course, I first make regular gravy for the meal I am cooking, using all of the little fried bits.

    I have never tried adding bacon grease but I think that might add even more flavor.

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  25. Could I use olive oil?

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    Replies
    1. Olive oil doesn't take very well to high heat which is why a higher smoke oil is generally used when making a dark roux. Now if you're doing a lighter blond roux, you can use butter or olive oil, but do keep in mind that olive oil will also add olive flavor to the dish you're using the roux for.

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  26. I just finished making your oven roux last night. My question: when I make my gumbo later, can I add the holy trinity directly to the roux and sauté or do I have to add water to the roux first? I really want to cook the veggies in the straight roux for the flavor. Your cooking method worked great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that oven method great?!

      Yes, that's my preference too. Just slowly warm the roux, then add the veggies and cook, stirring constantly. Proceed with whatever recipe you're using adding the liquid after the veggies have softened.

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    2. I forgot.... my name is Ron. Thank you so you so much for your advice. I'll be cooking this weekend!

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    3. You're welcome Ron & nice to meet you!

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  27. Can I use this recipe to make roux for deep brown turkey gravy? What is the ratio of stock to roux? I make about 2qts of gravy and never seem to have the right balance of roux to thicken the gravy. I struggle with this every Thanksgiving. It seems I never get the roux I pre make a rich stock by first roasting turkey wings. I will use the fat from the roasting pan for the roux.

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    Replies
    1. You don't really need this dark of a roux for turkey gravy so the oven method isn't necessary, plus this dark of a roux loses it's thickening power. For 2 quarts of turkey gravy, I'd start with 1/2 cup of fat and 3/4 cup of flour and 8 to 9 cups of turkey stock/.broth, depending on how thin you want it. The congealed fat scraped from the top of your premade turkey stock after it's refrigerated would be perfect, but you may need to add some butter too. Heat the fat, stir in the flour a little at a time and cook it to a light beige color. Start with adding the stock or broth in a little at a time until it reaches the consistency that you want. Hope that helps!

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  28. I was mid question when I realized I had to identify myself to comment. My post was published before I finished typing...sorry I've never done this before. I was asking if I could substitute turkey fat for oil and make this same roux in advance for Thanksgiving turkey gravy? Also what is ratio of roux to liquid for gravy? Thank you!!!

    gravy?

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  29. Hello. My name is Dave and I am new to roux (and cooking for that matter). I stumbled across you website and it has been a great resource.

    Anyway, last night I made the oven roux. This AM I noticed that there is about 3/4 inch of oil on top. (This is in a quart mason jar just under 3/4 full.) Is this normal? Do I pour off the oil or just stir it up before removing some for use? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hello. My name is Dave and I am new to roux (and cooking for that matter). I stumbled across you website and it has been a great resource.

    Anyway, last night I made the oven roux. This AM I noticed that there is about 3/4 inch of oil on top. (This is in a quart mason jar just under 3/4 full.) Is this normal? Do I pour off the oil or just stir it up before removing some for use? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dave! That is completely normal! Don't pour it off - just stir it in before using.

      Delete

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