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Cornstarch + butter roux?

Chimayo Joe Jun 12, 2003 05:31 PM

I have Dorinda Haffner's book "A Taste of Africa"(which includes recipes from New World regions with African influence)checked out of the library and noticed in the brief Louisiana section she includes a recipe for gumbo that uses cornstarch and butter to make a light brown roux. Is that ever done down there or is that just her spin on gumbo?

  1. m
    Mr. Lake Jun 12, 2003 09:35 PM

    I've lived in N.O. all my life and have yet to see anyone make a roux that way. Flour and oil (in the old days lard) is pretty standard here, I think. But we've so many great cooks I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some people use cornstarch and butter.

    Link: http://disc.server.com/Indices/197754...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Mr. Lake
      Hungry Celeste Jun 13, 2003 09:31 AM

      I've never encountered a home cook using butter & cornstarch as a roux, and I've done a fair amount of food-related fieldwork in LA. I am familiar with a certain school of acadiana cooks who use cornstarch to thicken crawfish etouffee (and similar dishes), though this practice is reviled by many of their neighbors! The cornstarch is added at the end, just before finishing. Although cornstarch was mass produced in the US by the 1870s, it didn't really become widely used 'til the 1930s (it was cheaper than flour). Check out Betty Fussell's Story of Corn for a lengthy explanation.

      1. re: Hungry Celeste
        Chimayo Joe Jun 16, 2003 06:01 AM

        I had considered buying "Taste of Africa", but that cornstarch gumbo made me wonder about the rest of the recipes in the book. I don't know enough about the cooking of most of the other regions she covers to know if the recipes are close to authentic or not. Author is from Ghana and lives in Australia.

        1. re: Chimayo Joe
          Hungry Celeste Jun 17, 2003 04:09 PM

          If you're interested in African influences on new world cooking, check out Jessica Harris's new book, "Beyond Gumbo". It's a great addition to any cookbook collection.

          Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASI...

        2. re: Hungry Celeste
          Jeff DeChristopher Aug 3, 2003 11:13 PM

          Classically speaking roux is always made with equal amounts of fat and flour.Cornstarch is indeed a better thickener having twice the thickening power of flour and unlike flour you don't have to cook out that raw flavor that flour will impart which makes it great for thickening sauces.

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