In preparation for a post I’m going to make later about chowders, here is a post about roux. Roux is one of several ways to thicken a soup or sauce, and it’s very simple. If you’ve ever tried to thicken something by just dumping a spoonful of flour into it, you know this is not ideal: it makes it taste floury, and the flour often fails to diffuse through the liquid and therefore leaves nasty little lumps. The easy way to get around both of these problems is to fry the flour first. You can use either oil or butter.
I made this particular batch of roux for a chowder, and since those are dairy based, I chose butter. Mmmm. My rule of thumb is one great big spoonful of flour for every serving of food my roux is going to be distributed over – given my preferences, this works equally well for soups and sauces, but your mileage will almost certainly vary. If you are new to roux, make twice as much as you think you need in a separate pot and add it to whatever it’s thickening a little at a time.
Goop of the evening, beautiful goop.
You may need to add more oil or butter to get a nice, goopy consistency for the amount of flour you use. I haven’t found that it matters very much how long you cook it (it has to sizzle, but not for any particular length of time), but you do have to stir it around pretty much constantly or it gets icky. Ickier. Let’s face it, this isn’t pretty stuff, but you won’t be able to see it once it goes in the rest of your food.