The Kitchen of the Midnightferret

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Archive for May, 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Roux

NOTE: I started this post two years ago. Yeah, I’m on the ball.

Saturday night we made a chicken and sausage gumbo. Normally, I only make gumbo in the cooler winter months, because the process involves about 2 hours or so of constant stirring over a hot pot, but when the person who is letting you stay in his apartment for free wants gumbo, he gets gumbo.gumbo

Because we also decided to have guests, I determined to make a butter roux. For the uninitiated, everyday family gumbo at my house began with about one tablespoon of oil and two or three tablespoons of flour, cooked over low heat and stirred constantly until it was as dark as possible without being speckled or burnt. The butter roux for about a gallon and a half of gumbo consists of a pound of butter and about three and a half cups of flour. Deadly? Yes. But delicious.

Roux is tricky. Whether they are in French or Creole cuisine, the different types of roux require a lot of attention. In fact, I have never really been that comfortable making roux, even though I was from south Louisiana and expected to know all about it. Each time I make a roux, I am so afraid it will burn that I don’t quite darken it enough. The last gumbo I made for my husband and myself was a caramel color rather than the ideal dark reddish brown color. Because it was a dinner party, I was determined that this time I would make the perfect roux.

1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 diced red bell peppers
2 diced green bell peppers
2 diced medium onions
2 diced celery stalks
1 1/4 gallon (20 cups) chicken stock
2 tablespoons Tony’s or other Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons salt
1 lb. sliced andouille sausage
3 1/2 lb. cooked chicken (best whole roasted, but you can do boneless breasts and thighs in a pan)
hot sauce

You need a big stockpot, say 3 gallons. My mom always makes the roux in a cast iron skillet and transfers it to a stockpot, but do whatever you’re comfy with. Melt your butter over low/moderate heat. Add flour in thirds, stirring for 30 seconds between adds. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon, stirring constantly until it is a dark mahogany, around 1 hour. (Mine took 2 hours — if your roux isn’t browning, you may want to add a bit more flour.) Don’t be afraid! You’ve got to brown that roux! But keep stirring or else it will burn and speckle! Ew!

Now add the bell peppers and stir 30 seconds, then add onions and celery and stir 30 seconds, add chicken stock and stir constantly to make sure there aren’t any lumps. Add everything else but the chicken and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered around 45 mins. Skim the fat and stir occasionally. Add chicken and simmer 15 mins more. Adjust seasoning, add hot sauce. Serve with rice.