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Mar 7, 2011 08:03 AM

Help! A Real Roux Mess!

I've been making the same gumbo recipe for at least four years. Love it! Never had an issue with it until yesterday. Don't know what I did, used the same pan, same wood spatula, same stove top, same ingredients, and the same temperature, but man o' man am I unhappy today.

The recipe I make calls for a butter roux. I keep the heat very low and get my roux dark, dark brown... mahogany in color. It usually takes me just a tad over an hour, but it is so worth the effort.
So, yesterday I doubled the recipe (which is really the entire original recipe, but it makes a boat load of gumbo so I normally half it) and my roux took FOREVER AND A DAY to brown - we're talking well over an hour and a half...close to two. It was unreal. It took so long that it never achieved the normal color and still tasted scorched even though it never went without being stirred...not even for a millisecond. I tossed the whole thing out.

I've never had a roux issue, but I'll be darned if this roux didn't just have it out for me. I'm so flustered today, but I've got to hit it up again tonight. And truthfully, I'm dreading going through this again.

Any suggestions, tips, words of encouragement are greatly appreciated.
Meanwhile, I'm going to be in the corner in the fetal position.

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  1. Sometimes the Gods...and yesterday it would have been Bacchus....are just agin you.

    for my darker rouxs (e.g.turtle soup) I put some oil in with the butter to retard burning. I am sure some scientist will say this doesn't work but its like the first-knuckle-rice-water trick...that's what they learned me when I was a pup and I ain't changing.

    1. "So, yesterday I doubled the recipe..."

      Methinks that is where your problem lies. Do you have a bigger pan you could use?


      14 Replies
      1. re: I used to know how to cook...

        Obviously we don;t know yet what size pot was involved but I have made 40+ gallons of gumbo and been fine with a standard cast-iron dutch over for the roux..then we dumped it into the stock which was on a crawish burner.

        1. re: hazelhurst

          But you've "tempered" it with oil.... Which is an option. Whatever the case, if it tasted scorched, it got too much heat for too long.

          1. re: CocoaNut

            ...and there is that seemingly millisecond between the perfect toasted taste and boint. That's why you have the onions and so forth ready to go a lower the temp...

          2. re: hazelhurst

            Hi Hazelhurst,

            Doubling the recipe is the only change I see the OP made from her original method.

            Which is why I asked if she perhaps had a bigger pan she could use...


          3. re: I used to know how to cook...

            I'm with used-to.... Methinks (also) you didn't have enough surface to pan heat.

            1. re: I used to know how to cook...

              I use a 7qt round Le Creuset dutch oven. Recipe called for three cups flour and four sticks butter.

              I have an 11qt oval. Should I try that for this volume of Roux?

              1. re: FoodChic

                If that's the same pan you use successfully with the smaller batch that could be the problem.

                A larger pan would have more area for the roux to brown.


                1. re: FoodChic

                  I think "I used to know" is on the right track...are you on gas? that helps _a lot_ over electric. I don;t know exactly how many quarts my pot is--just a standard Red beans and rice pot, you know the kind. As I said, we've made large amounts of roux in it but we were using camp stoves and not a stove.

                  1. re: hazelhurst

                    Sadly, I don't have gas...yet. I do have the option of using the large gas burners on our gas grill if needed.

                  2. re: FoodChic

                    I just noticed you said you have an 11qt oval. Seems like that will have more surface area for the roux.

                    Maybe Hazelhurst can weigh in on this? Would that be big enough for the amount of roux she wants to make?


                    1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                      For 3 cups flour the 7 qt ought to be fine but, sure, the 11 will give you more control. Also, on electric stoves, it helps to take in on-and-off the burner just to avoid this very problem. The proportions are intriguing..virtually everone I know uses a 1:1 ratio with rare exceptions (again, such as turtle soup which uses a bit more flour).

                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        Normally I'm 1.5 cups flour with 2 sticks butter. Always turns out beautifully.
                        That's why I didn't think this would be an issue. Lesson learned.

                        1. re: FoodChic

                          Well, there's not a creole cook alive tjhat hasn't burned once in awhile so don;t fret. I admit I have not burned one in a million hyears but I have has _lots_ of practice since I was about 8 years old.

                          1. re: FoodChic

                            As painful as this may sound, it might make sense to do two batches of roux, add trinity separately, and combine them before assembling the final product. You seem to have the process down pat and always have success. What's another hour of your time? I'd go for success over time.....

                            I agree with everyone else; you need more surface area or temper with oil.

                            FWIW, I make my roux strictly with oil and have never burned it. I've been doing this so long I have roux down to 15 minutes. I have done the multiple batch approach when making a boat load of gumbo. I've also made separate batches several days in advance and heated them separately.

                            Separately, glad to hear you worked it all out!

                  3. Do you use a cast iron skillet? I'll tell you what I do for the dark roux. I use oil. For me, butter is only used for my light roux. Anyway, Here is how I do it:
                    1. Get out about three bottles of beverage--I use diet cola..sometimes I drink water.
                    2. Take the phone off the hook. If you have kids, tell them not to disturb you--if the front doorbell rings do not answer it.
                    3. Put on some good music. I usually have some good Zydeco music playing while making my dark roux.
                    4. Forget the wooden spoon. Use a wisk.
                    5. put the oil and flour in the pan.
                    6. put the flame on med. high.
                    7. Start stirring the roux.
                    8. As it starts to get darker, keep stirring.
                    9. If you notice it is getting darker faster than you can evenly stir, lower the heat.
                    10. Keep going back and forth from higher heat to lower heat.
                    11. Keep babysitting the roux and keep wisking.
                    12. Keep drinking your beverage.

                    Honestly, this is really how I do it. My kids are grown now and I miss my ceremonious roux isn't the same anymore. Now when I make a roux, fiance is upstairs. There is no more noise from the kids--my dogs passed on so they aren't even part of the roux ceremony. Just me, my diet coke and the music. However, it is still worth it b/c when the kids are over and they have my gumbo it brings back good memories and great conversation.

                    Good luck in your future roux endeavors!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jarona

                      i always use peanut oil for my roux, higher smoke point = more forgiving

                    2. Happy Fat Tuesday!

                      Well, I made it. The roux turned out great and I have two large recipes of gumbo here at the office. I used my large oval pot and turned the heat up higher than I normally do. Within an hour I had my beautiful dark roux.

                      Not only did the roux turn out, but the andouille from Best Stop showed up yesterday, too. The stars were aligned in my favor yesterday.

                      Thank you all for your help!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: FoodChic

                        HI FoodChic,

                        Excellent! So glad your gumbo worked out.

                        And thanks for letting us know. Always nice when people do that...