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Questions about roux

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello all, new guy here with a couple of questions concerning roux -

I've read up a lot about the topic, and am wondering: can roux be used as a thickener in pretty much ALL applications, or does it end up detracting flavor? For instance, I've made a roast pork loin with a raspberry sauce that I wanted to thicken just a bit. Can I use a light roux, which I've read is good with pork and veal, to thicken it, or am I better off using heavy cream? What are some general rules of thumb to determine this?

Also, when making your roux, I'm of the understanding the roux needs to be cooked to the appropriate degree BEFORE adding your 'trinity'. But I've seen a certain chef from New Orleans making dishes where he added the trinity right away in pretty much every dish, even though each roux was darker than the first. Is this pretty much for the cameras or am I completely missing something that the 1,000 other articles about making roux have missed?

post #2 of 10
hmm...big question. There's a time and place for roux, reduction, buerre manie and monte, other starches and so on. Roux based sauces tend to be "heavier" on the tongue-but is that a bad thing? Not in many applications, yes in many others.

You can read Escoffier and others re: classical sauces but there is no definitve now days IME. What is your end result? What style of cuisine? Many "modern" sauces rely on reduction-that won't work for a gumbo or a bechamel though....Do what works for you-experiment. If it works don't worry ;).

That didn't clarify a thing i'm sure. for the home cook there are a few books on sauces out there, James Petersen's comes to mind first. Good luck and have fun.
post #3 of 10
How about cornstarch for your raspberry sauce?

As far as adding the trinity to your roux, there isn't any certain temperature. Just remove from heat and add it shortly beofre the roux reaches the desired color. The cold vegetables help slow the cooking process in the roux so you don't go over cook it. At the same time you get to sweat your trinity in the roux without any browning.
post #4 of 10


Another newby here too,got to tread carefully.I tend to shy away from most starches as a thickener,I think it does "dull"flavors.My preffered methods for the loin & berries roast would be:pork out,rendered juices of pork & berries whisked off the heat with either arrowroot or cream cheese,keep warm,slice loin,nape,serve.
post #5 of 10
Arrowroot is a starch. I'm pretty sure the creamcheese is not. :D :p

I found an interesting page about starch thickeners.
post #6 of 10
I agree with Dano. Roux works perfectly in some applications but is disastrous in others.

As far as detracting flavors is concerned... to a point, but no where near as much as something like cream. I find cream masks flavors in a huge way.

If you're looking to prevent the delicate raspberry flavor from becoming obscured, I'd go with arrowroot, as previously mentioned. Or, if the sauce is stock based, you might be able to augment the collagen in the stock with a little gelatin.

Also, since raspberries are so expensive and delicately flavored a lot of commercial jam makers bump up the flavor with a little lemon juice. You might want to try adding a little. Not much, just enough to give it a slightly brighter profile.

How about making your raspberry sauce into a foam? :)
post #7 of 10
"can roux be used as a thickener in pretty much ALL applications, or does it end up detracting flavor? For instance, I've made a roast pork loin with a raspberry sauce that I wanted to thicken just a bit"

A good way to learn exactly what effects a roux has is to divide your sauce in half. Thicken half with roux. Thicken half by reducing. Or thirds for that matter and add cream to one and learn about effects of cream. I have found doing things in this manner to be a great learning tool because of the side by side taste comparision starting with exactly the same product.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips, everyone. It's starting to make more sense now. I do agree that cream does not seem to provide the effect I want, as it does dull down the flavor of the raspberries a bit. I made this last night just by reduction and got more what I was looking for ..

But ChefLayne has a great idea for my further explorations into using roux!
post #9 of 10

To Roux, or Not To Roux, that is the question!

I haven't read all the replies, but it looks like you've gotten plenty of good information. For a raspberry sauce, I also, would probably either use a cornstarch slurry (made with cool raspberry juice or liqour instead of water), or possibly, depending on the amount of sauce you're making, simply let it reduce over a very low flame. This will cause it to not only thicken, but to intensify in flavor as well.

Roux and cream will certainly change the dark color.

Lastly, there are white, blond, brown, and black rouxs, all depending on how long you let them cook. The longer they cook, the darker they get. The longer they cook, the less thickening power they have (so you need to add more of a darker roux than of a white roux), but a nice dark roux will help keep the color of a dark sauce dark.

One last 'lastly'...some folks save their duck fat, or bacon grease, and make a non-traditional roux using other kinds of fat (not just butter, which is classical French). Other people who know they will use this roux for a specific dish may have that, 'smoky bacon roux' or 'curry roux' or duck roux, or anything else your imagination (and ability to utilize leftovers) can bring you.

Good luck!

Chef Carmine J Russo, CCC, CCE
[I][U][B][COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=2][FONT=Georgia] Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
[I][U][B][COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=2][FONT=Georgia] Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
post #10 of 10
sauce making? think of the flavor you want and remember that the more fat you add to something the more you are masking the flavor. For instants the rasberry sauce with cream will have less of an acidic flavor with the pork, pork has fat, acid cuts fat which will coat taste buds and mask falvor of pork. So you want a thickner that doesn't have fat in it, So now you would try a slurry,(pure starch and dissolved in a cool liquid), stay away from making a slurry with flour , to much protein. Anyway i could go on about this for ever.
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