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Brown Roux

Note: Adapted from the Time-Life series, Cookbooks of the World, one of two of the best sources for Cajun/Creole cooking. The goal is to get the roux to turn   brown without burning it,  without standing over it constantly, and without ending up with the overpowering taste of flour. If it's done right, it shouldn't lump, like flour and water, and should not .  (Easier said than done!)  There are varying degrees of darkness, depending on what it is to be used for. 

Paul Prudhomme, noted Louisiana chef and the second best source, prefers the fast method of preparation, heating the oil to "smoking hot" before adding the flour.  (He calls it calls it Cajun napalm, a hint about how hot is hot!)  This approach takes skill, in order to avoid burning the mixture, or thickening it too quickly.  Light-brown roux is used most often for heavier dark meats like game and is the one roux that is not made over very high heat.  Dark red-brown roux is recommended for poultry and seafood.  Black roux is best used for gumbo, if you can get it to darken without burning.

Roux can be prepared ahead and kept for weeks if refrigerated. Serves as a base and thickening agent for bisques, gumbos, and other soups, as well as for gravies and stews.  For the uninitiated, try using okra instead of roux.

Makes about 11 Tablespoons.   See Etouffee.

8 T unsifted flour
8 T vegetable oil

1. Before placing on heat, combine flour and oil in heavy 10" skillet, preferably cast-iron or enameled iron. With large metal spatula, stir them to a smooth paste.
2. Place over the lowest possible heat and stir constantly.
3. After 5 minutes or so, the mixture will begin to foam and this foaming may continue for as long as 10 minutes.
4. After about half an hour, the roux will begin to darken and have a faintly nutty aroma.
5. Continue to cook slowly, stirring with spatula, till roux is a dark rich brown. The goal is to get it to turn dark without having to spend 45 minutes stirring constantly.
6. During the last 5 minutes or so of cooking, the roux darkens quickly and you may want to lift the pan from the heat periodically to let it cool. Should the roux burn, discard it and make another batch.
7. Immediately scrape the contents of the skillet into a small bowl, if you're going to store it. If you're using it in a recipe, you may need to recombine it, because the fat will rise to the surface and separate from the roux.
8. If recombining, measure the desired amount into the pan and warm the roux slowly over low heat, stirring constantly. If adding a liquid, it should be at least lukewarm or the mixture may separate. If it does, beat it together again with a wisk.

Time-Life Books, American Cooking: Creole and Acadian, Foods of the World, 1971.