GIF Tutorial: How to Make a Roux

Atera sous chef Zach Hunter helps us master one of the most fundamental kitchen skills.

  • It might not look like much, but this white roux will help you make all manner of deliciousness. Click through the gallery to see how it's prepared...
  • Once you have your ingredients—flour and room-temperature butter, in a 50/50 ratio—get your saucepan going over low heat. Hunter used 150g of fat and flour, but you can use whatever amount you want as long as it's equal. (If you make too much, just throw it in the freezer and use the leftover roux later.)
  • Crucial tip: You want the saucepan to be just warm enough to melt the butter, but not hot enough to burn it.
  • Stir constantly to speed up the process, and also to help avoid any accidental burning of the butter.
  • Once the butter is melted and there are no more solid chunks left, take the saucepan off the heat.
  • Add the flour gradually, a third or a half at a time. Each time you add more, stir the mixture so it incorporates fully.
  • Keep in stirring as it starts to thicken. You can continue to do this on or off the heat, again being careful not to let the butter burn.
  • Once the flour is fully incorporated, put the saucepan back on low heat and cook the mixture, which should now have the consistency of soft dough. Stir constantly. The purpose of this step is to "cook out the taste of raw flour," says Hunter.
  • How do you know when it's done cooking? "The aroma should be like sugar cookies fresh out of the oven," says Hunter. If you want a blond or brown roux, you'll want to keep cooking, low and slow, until it darkens in color.

Photo and GIFs by Liz Barclay

Welcome back to the First We Feast GIF Tutorial series, where we ask restaurant cooks and pro bartenders to show us how step up our technique when cooking and making drinks at home.

You can buy all manner of ridiculous cooking devices from Sky Mall, drop thousands of dollars on a sous-vide machine, and get fancy ingredients galore, but if you really want to become a better cook, the key is to learn the fundamentals that will serve as building blocks for every dish you make.

One of those fundamentals is the classic roux: a simple, equal-parts blend of fat (usually butter, though you might use oil or lard) and flour that serves as one of the lynchpins of French cuisine. It’s used to thicken sauces and give them an extra oomph of fatty flavor—cook a roux with milk, onions, and spices, and you’ve got a textbook béchamel. Combine it with stock and you’ve got a velouté, another of the famed “mother sauces,” and one that’s ideal for soups.

After he showed us how to cook a perfect steak, we asked Atera sous chef Zach Hunter to take use through the steps of roux-making. Turns out it’s pretty damn easy, but it’s a crucial skill to master, and there are a few rookie mistakes to avoid.

One important note: Here, Hunter makes a white roux, which is when the flour is barely cooked; it’s what you would use in a béchamel (and, by extension, a real-deal mac and cheese). The other two types—blond and brown—are made exactly the same way, they’re just a cooked longer; blond roux takes 10 to 20 minutes and has the aroma of cooked nuts, while brown roux can take up to 30 minutes and will have an even richer aroma. The key to making a roux is simple: Use low heat and stir a lot to avoid burning the butter—once it burns, there’s not much you can do to mask the bitter taste.

Now, whenever you see a recipe that begins “make a roux,” you won’t have to mess around.

Click through the gallery above to see Hunter demonstrate each step of the roux process.

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