My great grandma’s signature gumbo recipe has been passed down for generations. It always used to be our favorite dish, and I still remember her cooking it for us every time we went to visit.
The heavenly taste of her gumbo still lingers in my mouth to this day. Every single guest used to wonder what her secret was.
And the question was always followed by the same answer – “the key to the dish is to know how to make roux for gumbo.” As I grew up and started cooking for myself, I realized most people struggled to make the roux just right.
Thankfully, you never have to suffer from the same dilemma as I’m giving you the best tips and tricks for making the perfect roux in this article.
How to Make The Perfect Roux For Gumbo
Gumbos are one of the most delicious homemade dishes you can think of making from scratch. It contains a mixture of vegetables, sausages, and other forms of protein. However, the key to making a perfect gumbo is to make the most consistent roux.
For that, you need a few hours of patience and dedication. Making the ideal roux can be pretty taxing and difficult to do if you are not aware of a few tips. Thus, I give you this simple recipe that even an amateur can pull off and amaze their guests.
1. Required Ingredients
Any brand of flour is suitable for making roux. Health conscious people can also use gluten-free flour for this recipe. Keep in mind that not all gluten free flour brands are ideal for making a roux. Some brands of flour won’t give you the same level of consistency as regular brands.
Of course, melting some fat is important for making the perfect roux. You can use butter and oil for this purpose. The most suitable options are olive oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil combined with some salted butter. You can also use bacon fat and sausage drippings as an alternative.
2. Melt the Fat
The first step to making a consistent roux is melting the fat. No matter what type of fat source you are using make sure you pick the right apparatus. You can either use a medium-sized saucepan or skillet for this purpose. A Dutch oven can also serve the purpose well.
A large pot will distribute heat more quickly so it’s not recommended to use those. Next, you need to turn the heat up to medium and wait for a few minutes. Gently add the butter and oil to the pan. Once the mixture starts sizzling, you can be sure that you have reached the desired temperature.
3. Add the Flour and Stir
Once the butter melts and mixes with the oil, it’s time to add the flour to the mix. Sprinkle the flour on top of the butter mixture and start stirring immediately. You can use a whisk or a wooden spoon for stirring.
In case you are cooking in a metal pan, it’s recommended to use a wire whisk. On the other hand, a wooden spoon will be more suitable for whisking in a ceramic coated pan.
4. Whisk Roux Until White
When you start whisking the roux, and the ingredients start mixing up, you will notice the roux thickening pretty fast. At this point, the mixture is more prone to burning in the pan. You must keep whisking at a steady rate to stop this from happening.
The roux will turn white after whisking for about 3 minutes. With this consistency, you can use the roux as a thickening agent for other recipes like soups and stews.
5. Whisk Roux Until Blonde
After a few more minutes of stirring, the mixture will show a blonde or caramel color. The roux is supposed to look much thinner now than before. You can ease the pressure at this point, and don’t need to whisk so frequently.
This level of consistency will make this a perfect ingredient for adding to creamy sauces like béchamel. You also use this as a mouth-watering sausage gravy.
6. Whisk Roux Until Light Brown
If you want a darker colored roux then you might prefer cooking it for a little bit longer. After cooking and whisking for another 15 minutes or so, your roux will reach a milk chocolate color.
7. Whisk Roux Until Dark Brown
The longer you cook and whisk the mixture, the darker and more consistent it will become. It will also develop a smoother and catchier flavor if you put more time into it. 10 more minutes of continuous simmering and whisking from time to time will give the roux a darker hue.
This shade and consistency is a definite sign that the roux is prepared for your gumbo. Although 20 to 30 minutes are enough for cooking the perfect roux, you can also whisk it up for an hour for a more consistent blend.
8. Store the Roux
Once your roux has reached the desired consistency, you must find some way to store it for a few days before you mix it with the gumbo. If you want to store, then you will need a completely airtight container to keep the roux from losing its taste and color. You have to keep it in the refrigerator for about a month or longer.
Storing it in the freezer is also possible if you can seal the roux in a freezer-safe container. For that, you might need to wait for a year before you can use the roux.
There are still some factors you must consider beforehand, especially if it’s your first time preparing roux. Keep an eye on the color of the roux, which depends on how long you are whisking it. Darker shades will give a more distinct flavor, while lighter shades mean the roux is more consistent.
The size of the pot you are using is more important than you might think. Using a large pan or pot will end up burning the roux faster than you can whisk. It’s also ideal to make extra roux (stored in different consistencies) in case you want to use it as a sauce or soup ingredient.
Last but not the least, don’t be scared of experimenting. Try different types of fats, and you will notice a difference in taste and consistency. My favorite form of fat for this recipe is bacon grease, which elevates the taste of the roux on a major level.
I hope you enjoyed my guide on how to make roux for gumbo and are excited to try it out in the kitchen. Feel free to experiment with various ingredients if you want to spice up your gumbo. Whatever you do, make sure you store it safely in an airtight container so you can preserve it for years on end.