I did it. I lied — to myself, to you. Not only that, but I broke a promise to you… and to myself… and no offense, but breaking promises to one’s self is about a low as low can go. Plus, I’ve never been the type to forgive and forget… so how long, I wonder, will I hold a grudge against myself? *Sigh* I suppose only time will tell…
Now for my confession: I skipped an application. (I see gawking facing and hear deep inhales right now… or maybe that’s just my reflection in the computer screen and my own in-take of breath…) So I moved onto Episode 8, Season 1 “Gravy Confidential”… but truth be told — It wasn’t confidential… and that’s exactly why I skipped the White Roux application. Here’s the thing, roux is taught in a 101 Cooking class… actually, I take that back — It’s not even a 101; it’s a 100. I know, I know — I sound smug, as if I think I’m some top chef who’s mastered cooking techniques like the creation of roux… but honestly, I do know what I’m talking about…
Roux and I go waaay back… back to when I was a little girl, sitting on my mama’s countertop in her kitchen. Now I’ve already talked about how I would help her with her spaghetti sauce, but I helped with so many more recipes… one being, you guessed — roux making. Trista (my sister) and I would divide the roux-tasks… which seemed pretty laborious as a little girl… but for the price of a big, steaming hot dish of homemade macaroni and cheese… or for the price of made-from-scratch au gratins — it was time well spent.
So what exactly is roux? Simple: Two ingredients — butter and flour.
The process? Combining the two over heat. Now, the butter and flour act together, creating this diabolical force to be reckoned with. They thicken, forming a buttery Play Doh…
and leave the cook scrambling to the next step (adding liquid) before the whole roux is burned… well, at least that’s how the last part goes for me.
99% of the time, I say I’ve added milk to my roux, but liquids like broth can also be added. Now you may think, “I can breathe a sigh of relief” after introducing the liquid to the roux, but you’re wrong… very, very wrong. No, instead you next have the job of babysitting the roux — You have to stir constantly… it thickens… you have to add more liquid… stir constantly… it thickens… you have to add even more liquid… repeat… repeat… until, you’re left with this amazingly creamy, rich, buttery concoction that can then be added to a zillion foods to create an out-of-this-world dish. Sound like I’m exaggerating? I’m not. Promise. Even Alton says, making gravy (the aftermath of adding liquid to roux) is super simple, but easy? It is not. In fact, I made a roux yesterday, creating homemade mac ‘n cheese for my fiance… and despite the fact that I’ve made this roux an unlimited number of times, I still can’t get it right. I either put way too much flour in… which forces me to add way to much milk… which then creates this huge white “sauce” (aka the mac ‘n cheese “gravy”) that only continues to grow… and grow… and ultimately drowns my elbow noodles… Or I put too little flour in… which causes either one — a very liquidy, milky “sauce” — all too disgusting to use… or two — because the “sauce” is so thin, I have to add more flour after adding the milk… and well, that just never tastes good. (Disclaimer: I added an almost perfect amount of butter and flour yesterday for my mac ‘n cheese… and it created an almost perfect amount of “sauce”. While I had a little more than preferred, once cooked in the oven (to melt cheese on top), it was a perfect consistancy. I have to admit, that was probably the best roux-making I’ve done, thus far.)
Now while I may seem an expert on roux, as always, I learned something from Alton: Roux isn’t fond of high heat. Alton writes “very high heat destroys many of the starch granules”… and that, depending on the time cooked over a high temperature, the roux can lose its thickening power. (As a sidenote, if you haven’t guessed, the thickening power is the roux’s entire purpose in life.) My problem is I get so gosh-darn impatient with the roux. I haaate waiting for it to thicken. I haaate waiting longer for it to re-thicken a second time after I added the liquid. And I therefore, despissse waiting a third time for it to re-thicken after I added more liquid. So… I normally do crank the heat… but as Alton expertly points out, this is probably why many of my roux dishes haven’t quiet worked out. Oh Alton, the lessons I have to learn from you… So many and not ever enough time.
(PS-I promise, the next time I make roux, I’ll include pictures… …okay, maybe I don’t promise because that would mean I’ve broken a second promise since I’ve made roux several times since skipping this application… But, I do promise I’ll try to add pictures of the next roux I make! …Yes, that promise makes me happy.)
(PPS-Since I wrote this above post, as you can see, I’ve added pictures of my roux. Just for youx.)