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Essential Cooking Skills: How to Make a Roux in 3 Easy Steps

A roux is a mixture of fat and flour that is used to thicken sauces. The production of roux is indispensable for French cuisine, because three of the “mother sauces” of French cuisine - béchamel sauce, velouté sauce and Espagnol sauce - all have the roux at their roots. Fortunately, Roux isn't difficult to make and will add a great tool to your culinary toolbox!

About the ingredients

The two main ingredients in roux are fat and flour. The fat is usually butter, although it is possible to use toasted animal fat (like bacon fat or even olive oil) for roux with a unique flavor. Butter is a nice building block for almost any dish, especially when it comes to French cuisine, and you can't go wrong using it.

I recommend using good quality unsalted butter. Salt is added to any sauce you thicken with a roux, and it's best to have a neutral base to start with.

When it comes to flour, the all-purpose pantry flour is a great choice. The flour is added to the fat all at once and cooked until the flour taste of the wheat is gone. Then you can add the liquid you want to thicken and cook until your sauce gets the thick, smooth consistency you are looking for.

The ratio of fat to flour used in a roux is always 1: 1. However, the exact amount of fat and flour you use varies from recipe to recipe. A thick bratwurst sauce designed to be served with shortbread cookies may need more roux to make a hearty sauce to withstand oversized biscuits. In contrast, a bechamel becomes the base of a cheesy pasta sauce and may need less roux as you add cheese later in the cooking process to thicken the sauce. In general, I find that 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour thicken 1 1/2 cups of liquid to a nice, not too thick consistency, and I use this as a starting point for many recipes.

No matter how much roux you make, the process is always the same. Following these steps will ensure that your roux is just right.

How do you make a roux?

Ingredients:

  • 1 part butter (or other fat)
  • 1 part all-purpose flour

Step 1:

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Step 2:

When the butter is melted and bubbly, add the flour all at once.

Keep whisking or stirring until the flour is completely incorporated and the mixture begins to thicken. The mixture may look a bit lumpy at first, but it quickly becomes smooth.

Step 3:

Add the liquid that you want to thicken. For example, you can add milk to make a creamy bechamel sauce, or fried roast fat to make a hearty sauce. Once the liquid is added, keep stirring until the mixture boils and thickens.