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butterless roux?

Is it possible to make a rue without butter, using olive oil for example? What about with a (heresy, I know) butter substitute such as Smart Start or the like? I'm asking because I'd like to know how to properly modify recipes with rue for the very colesterol-conscious.

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  1. never done it, but I suspect it would work.....all you really need is fat(or semi fat) and flour

    1. I make roux all the time at work with oil. In fact it is much more common to make a roux with oil in the restaurant industry.

      from wiki:
      "Roux (IPA: /ˈruː/) is a mixture of wheat flour and fat, traditionally clarified butter. It is the thickening agent of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: sauce béchamel, sauce velouté, and sauce espagnole. Butter, vegetable oils, or lard are common fats used. It is used as a thickener for gravy, other sauces, soups and stews. It is typically made equal parts of flour and fat by weight.[

      Roux is most often made with clarified butter as the fat base but it may be made with any edible fat. In the case of meat gravies, they are often made with rendered fat from the meat. In regional American cuisine, bacon is sometimes fried to produce fat to use in the roux. Vegetable oil is often used when producing dark roux as it does not burn at high temperatures like butter will.

      When combining roux with water-based liquids, such as broth or milk, it is important that these liquids are not excessively hot. It is preferable to add room temperature or warm liquid into a moderately hot or warm roux. They should be added in small quantities to the roux while stirring, to ensure proper mixing. Otherwise, the mixture will be very lumpy, not homogeneous, and not properly thickened.

      Cooks can cheat by adding a mixture of water and wheat flour to a dish which needs thickening since the heat of boiling water will release the starch from the flour, however this temperature is not high enough to eliminate the floury taste. A mixture of water and flour used in this way is colloquially known as "cowboy roux" and in modern cuisine it is called a white wash but is used infrequently since it imparts a flavor to the finished dish that a traditional haute cuisine chef would consider unacceptable. Cornflour can be used instead of wheat flour, as less is needed to thicken, and it imparts less of the raw flour taste."

      I hope that this helps!

      1. I actually made gumbo without any fat in the roux. I toasted the flour to get that flavor, and then mixed it with the sauteing veggies. It turned out great! And much healthier.

        This is the recipe for the gumbo. It explains the flour:


        1 Reply
        1. re: maslovma

          One of my favorite gumbos is a rouxless gumbo that you substitute the browned flour for. Nice thing is you can do a bunch in advance and store it for later use

        2. Yes, in much of Louisiana, oil is the standard fat for roux based dishes. There are some dishes where oil wouldn't quite give you a desirable flavor, but I imagine these wouldn't be on a cholesterol conscious diet anyway. (I'm thinking of bechamel for cheese sauce, etc.) Just think about what's going to be in the finished dish, and which oil's flavor would be most apppropriate--canola, olive, sesame, or nut or seed oils. I've even made bechamel with canola oil and fat free milk for my father, who's on a heart healthy diet. It's not the same, of course, but for someone on a special diet, it's a good alternative rather than not eating such foods at all.

          1. I would rue a butter-less roux, but once we get past the puns, yes one can make roux with any fat besides butter. In fact the dark roux preferred by Cajuns as the base of their gumbo requires oil to get to that color without scorching.

            I use olive oil for certain gravy roux, just be forewarned that olive oil's lower smoking-point requires a watchful eye to avoid burning the mixture.

            1. It's ROUX, not rue.
              There's no reason why you can't use another fat. Many cooks in Louisiana use vegetable oil.
              Here's an article by chef John Folse about roux that gives very useful information.
              I have no idea about Smart Start or what it is made from. It's probably some kind of vegetable product. Worth trying.
              You are basically cooking the flour in the oil to eliminate the raw taste of the flour and to cause the flour to absorb the oil enough that it will then bind with the liquids in the sauce/gravy/whatever to thicken it.

              Most of the fats used do give some flavor to the flour which would make butter or bacon drippings a good choice. For many rouxs, they're such a small proportion of the finished dish that the amount of cholesterol would be fairly minimal. But then, every bit counts for many people.

              Check out the recipe that Folse gives for "dry roux."
              It can be used with very to little to NO oil and still act as a thickener. I've used this when we have been on diets and cutting out fats.
              I'll sauté the mirepoix (trinity) and then sprinkle the dry roux over it, using only the oil that I used to sauté the veggies. It works really well and cuts down the amount of fat to almost nothing.

              5 Replies
              1. re: MakingSense

                I've used the dry roux, too, and it works well. I don't bake the flour in quite as hot an oven as Folse recommends, and find you really have to stir the flour at the edges in toward the center, since it browns faster. But, it's really quite easy otherwise, and keeps well stored airtight. This has become my standard for etoufee or gumbo unless we're feeling heinous.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  I was always under the impression that Cajun roux was made with bacon fat. Am I out to lunch (pun intended) again?

                  So many misperceptions, so little time.

                  1. re: billieboy

                    A lot of cooks in Louisiana who like to make roux at high heat or make very dark roux will use vegetable oil because of its higher smoke point. Bacon drippings burn more easily.
                    I like the deeper, smokey flavor of the bacon drippings and they're a freebie - always have them on hand.
                    My father's Cajun family used pork fat from the hogs they butchered.
                    My mother's New Orleans family used oil and butter for roux.
                    I switch back and forth depending on which family recipes I'm using...

                  2. re: MakingSense

                    I should have read your link before I posted. Very informative. Thank you.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      And it's mirepoiX, not mirepois, as long as we're being sticklers.

                    2. remember, the longer you cook the roux (and the darker it gets), the lesser the thickening power. but the point is the flavor. darker = better.

                      paul prudhomme is using -- often -- the toasted/browned flour technique, as mentioned upthread by others. mentioned here by making sense: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4772...

                      here, foodisgreat begins a long discussion by many hounds re oven-browned flour as a thickener (see particularly second para. of this permalinked post, and following discussion): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5538... (fun thread, btw).