Cowbridge Kitchen

What is a Roux and why do you need one ?

How To Make A Roux For Any White Sauce

A roux is something a chef uses to make a white sauce , and lets be clear making a roux is a basic skill if you plan to make anything from a Cheese Sauce to a Bechamel Sauce for your lasagne. A Roux is most often made with 50 percent fat to 50 percent flour , depending on how thick you want to make it. As far as the fat is concerned you can use fat or oil you want, but remember it is important to use the correct fat for the correct sauce.

The perfect white sauce recipe

You might be asking what you would use a roux for, let me run through a few of the types of sauces and fats that you might want to use when making your roux.

A Bechamel sauce : This is the sauce that you would have on top of a Lasagne and the type you have only ever bought in a jar from your local supermarket. The type of roux you would need for this sauce would use butter for the fat and milk for the fluid. A typical Bechamel sauce might use 40 - 50 grams of butter to 20 - 30 grams of plain flour.Fresh homemade lasagne with bechemal sauce

You can find my recipe for this sauce here.

A cheese Sauce : This sauce is very much the same as a bechamel sauce except for the addition of cheese. It is up to you which cheese you want to use. My personal favourite is a Stilton or Blue cheese sauce.

Parsley Sauce : this is a classic fish sauce that is made from a roux made with butter , flour, milk and a pinch of pepper..... Oh , and of course chopped parsley. I love making this sauce because it is so simple and is delicious with Fish cakes.

Macaroni Cheese : A roux is the base for Mac and Cheese, make a delicious cheese sauce here and you have the foundations for Macaroni cheese.

Creamy macaroni cheese sauce

Makng a plain white sauce with onions and garlic is a great idea to use as a potato oven bake. Just slice up some potatoes nice and thin , layer in an oven dish and cover with the sauce, baking in the oven until they are soft and the sauce is crisp and hot.

As you can see from the few examples here , making a roux is a cooking basic skill that you will use often.

I will demonstrate how  make a Roux by using the example of a Bechamel Sauce as this is probably the most common reason most people will need to make one.

I start with 50 grams of butter melting in a large pan. You can add some fine chopped onions to this butter and let them soften off. You are going to need to add around 30 to 40 grams of plain flour to this butter once it is melted and the onions are soft, mix it together with a small whisk so that a thick paste forms, and this is your basic white roux.

A white roux is the first stage of this versitile recipe, the longer you leave this to cook the roux will change colour from a white roux to a blonde roux then a brown roux. These stages are interesting as they can be used for different sauce types. For instance if you want to use this roux as a gravy base then you might want to let it develop into a brown roux. 

So to turn this white roux into a simple bechamel sauce you are going to need to add around 400 ml of warm milk to the roux and whisk it in over a high heat until it thickens. The more milk you add to this the thiner the sauce will become.

I have been talking to a few friends and I couldn't believe that they only ever thicken sauces with cornflour, and so do many other people. Cornflour is used heavily in Asian & Chinese cooking as a thickening agent for sauces like sweet and sour and some types of Soy sauce based dishes.

So there you have it , the basic white roux is simple to make and the best way to thicken up all of your white sauces, you can use it to make a nice curry sauce as well. All you need to do is add curry powder to the flour and add a chicken stock to the roux in stead of milk

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