Incorporating The Roux

Combining the roux and liquid to obtain a smooth, lump-free sauce is a skill that takes practice to master. It's a good idea to practice the various techniques with water,under the guidance of your instructor, so you understand what you are doing before you start working with valuable stocks.

General Principles

Liquid may be added to roux, or roux may be added to liquid.

The liquid may be hot or cooled, but not ice cold. A very cold liquid will solidify the fat in the roux.

The roux may be warm or cold, but not sizzling hot. Adding a hot liquid to a very hot roux causes spattering and,possibly,lumps.

Within these general guidelines, there is room for a number of variations.Two of them are described here. Because successful use of roux is largely a matter of experi-ence,you are advised to profit from your instructors' experience when they demonstrate these techniques or whichever methods they prefer.

Equipment note: Stainless-steel pans are best for white sauces.Whipping in an aluminum pan makes the sauce gray.

Procedures for Incorporating Roux_

Method 1: Adding Liquid to Roux

This method is used when a roux is made up specifically for the sauce, gravy, or soup being prepared.

1. Use a heavy saucepot to prevent scorching either the roux or the sauce.

2. When the roux is made, remove the pan from the fire for a few minutes to cool slightly.

3. Slowly pour in the liquid, all the while beating vigorously with a wire whip to prevent lumps from forming.

If the liquid is hot (such as simmering milk for b├ęchamel sauce), you will have to beat especially well, because the starch will gelatinize quickly. If the liquid is cool, you can add a quantity of it, beat to dissolve the roux, then add the remainder of the liquid, hot or cool.

4. Bring the liquid to a boil, continuing to beat well. The roux does not reach its full thickening power until near the boiling point.

5. Simmer the sauce, stirring from time to time, until all the starchy taste of the flour has been cooked out.

This will take at least 10 minutes, but the flavor and consistency of the sauce will improve if it is cooked longer. Many chefs feel that 20 minutes of simmering is a bare minimum. Others cook some sauces for an hour or longer.

6. When the sauce is finished, it may be kept hot in a bain-marie or cooled for later use. Either way, it should be covered or have a thin film of butter melted onto the top to prevent a skin from forming.

Method 2: Adding the Roux to the Liquid

Many restaurants make up large batches of roux to last all day or even all week. This method may be used in these situations.

1. Bring the liquid to a simmer in a heavy pot.

2. Add a small quantity of roux and beat vigorously with a whip to break up all lumps.

3. Continue to beat small quantities into the simmering liquid until the desired consistency is reached. Remember that roux must simmer for a time to thicken completely, so do not add roux too quickly or you risk overthickening the sauce.

4. Continue to simmer until the roux is cooked out and no starchy taste remains.

5. If the sauce is to simmer a long time, underthicken it because it will thicken as it reduces.

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