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About Cajun Rouxs
Submitted by: John Folse, CEC, AAC
Revised: June 25, 2000

Categories: Sauces>Miscellaneous
Stocks may be thickened by means of reductions, eggs, butter, vegetable purees, cream, foie gras, various starches and even blood. In classical French cuisine, the roux is the primary thickening agent. Equal parts of butter and flour are well blended over heat to create a roux. This process may produce rouxs of different colors and thickening capabilities depending on the cook's need. In Cajun and Creole cuisine, the roux has been raised to a new dimension never before experienced in other forms of cooking.

Butter, lard, peanut oil, bacon fat and even duck fat have been used in combination with flour to produce as many taste and color variations as there are cooks in South Louisiana. In classical cuisine, the brown roux is used for brown sauce, the blonde roux for veloutes and the white roux is used for bechamels. In Creole cuisine, a brown roux is made from butter or bacon fat and is used to thicken gumbos and stews requiring a light touch. The Cajuns, on the other hand, are the originators of the most unique rouxs in modern cookery.

The Cajun dark brown roux is best made with vegetable oil, although in the past, it was thought imperative that only animal fat be used. The flour and oil are cooked together until the roux reaches a caramel color. This roux has less thickening power, however, due to the fact that the darker the roux gets, the more the starch compound which thickens liquid breaks down. Thus, the thickening capabilities of the dark roux are diminished. The dark brown roux is the secret to traditional Cajun food because of the richness and depth it adds to the dish. Butter is used in classical and Creole rouxs, however, the Cajuns use only vegetable oil or lard to produce their lighter colored roux. Tan in appearance, these light rouxs are used primarily with vegetables and light meat dishes.

Nothing in Cajun country has a greater aroma than a light brown roux simmering with onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. On many occasions growing up in South Louisiana, my hunger was satisfied with a touch of this vegetable seasoned roux spread on a piece of French Bread. Certain gumbos are further thickened, in Bayou country, with either okra or file powder. Considering the variations in cooking time and fats or oils, the number of different roux possibilities are infinite. I will attempt to delineate six such rouxs, three used in classical cuisine, one used in Creole cooking and two that are strictly Cajun.

Roux Recipes:

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