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dark roux  

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
for the run of the mill white / blonde sauces I always make a roux on the fly.

dark roux however does take more time and attention. me making a dark roux on the fly usually results in strong burnt smells and noises from the round things on the ceiling.....

hence I like to make a dark batch and keep it in the freezer for ready use.

the usual&traditional butter:flour /1:1 works in lighter roux - but when going to the dark side I have found it necessary to increase the flour - typically 2 sticks butter (i.e. 16 tblsp) but 24 tblsp flour.

failure to increase the flour results in butter/roux separation as it cools.....

is it me or is this shift in the ratio an established artifact?

(I typically use AP, altho I always have bread & cake flour on hand, if that makes a difference.)
post #2 of 26
Hi Dillbert,

My take is if your trick works for you (double flour) why question it.

If a traditional roux is what you want but it separates, think of portion packing it to freeze it like making ice cubes. Use as many frozen cubes as you need when making recipes.

As for flour choice, roux is a controlled browning (Maillard) reaction. The reaction depends on available proteins and carbohydrates. Flour is carbohydrate heavy so increasing the protein will help in colour and flavour development. In this light, bread flour (high in protein) will work better then AP (intermediate) and better still than (low protein) cake flour.

That's my take,
Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #3 of 26
For dark roux forget about butter and use oil.
If it smells burnt you should throw it out and start again.
Some tricks to unattended dark roux are browning the flour in the oven, or taking your vegetables and cooking them separately til they're almost black.
The darker the roux the less the thickening power
post #4 of 26
use oil instead of butter: Excellent point! butter proteins brown/burn more easily then the flour proteins.

My mother used to brown flour in the oven... I hated the smell when I was a child but she made a mean brown sauce for pork roast with that stuff!

the decreasing thickening power of dark roux is on the money (I think we covered that in another post). Dark roux is more for flavour and colour then thickening. The browning reaction breakdown starch hence the thickening capacity of flour.

Great insight Scarerobot!

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
good input - like the bread flour idea - will definitely try that.

for clarification: I do not burn roux and then try to use it.

when it's time to make up a batch of dark roux I dedicate the time and attention to the task to make it happen comma properly.
what I was trying to express is trying to bring a dark roux to fruition while dancing with multiple other dishes, things, out of ice, doorbell ringing, guest with a dry martini glass,,,,, usually results in burnt stuff, hence my proclivity to making it in advance.

since this is "all purpose" to be used in <?>, it is just butter and flour - no seasonings, no veggies, just a dark roux for use in making a dark sauce/gravy base.

(and when I'm out of dark roux then I just make a lighter roux and hit it with some GravyMaster. sigh. it is mostly a color thing, but toasted flour does convey its own flavor.....)

re freezing in small batchi - I make a batch in a straight sided saute pan, let it cool / solidify, scrape it out, form into a roll, freeze. then I can lop off 'as much as needed'

the neat part - seeing as dark roux does not have the thickening power of light roux - if I booboo the amount needed I can go whack off another tablespoon or two and 'get outta' the fix in a flash.'

the 'problem' I've noticed is using flour:butter 1:1, as it cools, (some) butter separates.

now, I agree entirely: "if it works, go fer it!" - this is just one of life's little mysteries I thought perhaps a pro might "recognize" as "yeah, it works that way, you're not crazy."

of course, if I'm crazy, well, I can do that, too! <g>

Dan -

interesting roux capsulation -
stunning part: I'm making a dark roux, problem with fat separation.
check the proportions cited - 1:1 volumetrically throughout
_except_ for the dark cajuin roux - 2:1 oil flour.... wonder if that separates....?
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
.............rather than a darkened or burnt blonde/brown roux (butter and flour).

I don't burn the roux.
I don't burn the roux.
I don't burn the roux.

the folks who invented a dark roux did not have high smoke point oils available. use of high smoke point oils appears to be a convenient shortcut to "how to make a dark roux without really caring"
post #7 of 26

Obviously you know your roux and you're not crazy .... I think (wink, nudge).
Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #8 of 26
what got my attention was that you are making roux while entertaining.

It can be made into gumbo or whatever sauce earlier in the day and used at dinner.

Made seafood gumbo last Monday. 1-1 ration oil to flour, add spices and veg to dark roux, then stock.....add seafood just minutes prior to service.... and only as much for those portions. Keeps the seafood from overcooking.

Etouffee can be made earlier and slowly reheated

So what are you making with the dark roux?
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
......... Obviously you know your roux and you're not crazy .... I think (wink, nudge).

......... what got my attention was that you are making roux while entertaining.

Luc_H -

okay the roux, not so sure about the crazy bit.
post #10 of 26
I agree on more flour than fat. Makes sense in producing some to keep for later as you get more roux for about the same work.

I've taken to toasting a few cups of flour in the oven. Stir it around a few times. I don't think it tastes the same as fat cooked roux but it's a useful shortcut for me as a home cook. Speeds up weekday gravies and stews. i usually darken it some more in fat but the cooking time is significantly shorter.

And I use higher smoking point fat than butter for dark roux. However, it's not usually that much higher. Bacon drippings, schmalz and other good fat from cooking. I'd go for ghee over butter just to skip on the milk solids if I happen to have some ghee around.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #11 of 26
As already stated, your problem is that you are using butter to try and make a dark or brown roux.

The ratio for dark roux is 5 parts flour to 4 parts dripping (or similar type fat or oil)...even vegetable deep frying compound can be used.

The dark colour you are trying to get does not come from the roux being dark. It comes from the additives...That is what you use to make the sauce. You can add colour directly to the roux if you really want the roux to be darker. For example, if you are after a demi glaze type result, you can add a spoon or two of triple concentrate tomato paste directly to the roux.

What is it exactly you are trying to achieve? Maybe if we understood exactly what it is you are looking for, we might be able to offer a solution.

post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
...What is it exactly you are trying to achieve?

I want to have a dark thickener stashed in the freezer for ready use.

reason: every dish does not generate the basis for a dark colored sauce.
example: schnitzel and spaetzle - maybe a few bits left in the schnitzel pan
I reconstitute morels, saute fresh mushroom + diced onion/shallot/scallion + use the liquor and my "brown stuff" to make a sauce.

and to clarify points suggested in earlier messages:
this is not an exercise in making gumbo.
am I not so dumb I do not know know how to turn down the flame under the pan.
nor am I so inattentive that I go break dancing with my guests and leave the pan on the stove to burn.

....The ratio for dark roux is 5 parts flour to 4 parts dripping

the original question is: is it "normal" at the typical 1:1 aka 5:5 ratio for the fat/butter to separate on cooling?
I am now using 12 parts flour to 8 parts butter which is equal to 5 parts flour and 3.3333333 parts butter
the suggested 5:4 ratio contains more fat than what I am currently using

why is butter a problem?
the smoke point of butter lists at 350'F
vegetable shortening 360'F
lard 370'F
flour toasts a long time before any of those
post #13 of 26
Hi Dillbert,
I followed you from the get go.

As for why butter can (not < is >) a problem has nothing to do with the fat smoke point.
It is the residual milk proteins in butter that have a tendency to burn more readily than the flour will brown. But, if you keep things low and slow like I now you are doing, it is not an issue (and the fatty acid in butter taste better than any other oils)

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #14 of 26
It seems like it is normal for butter. I've had the same "problem" when using butter for a dark roux as i'm also a "roux freezer". After a little while, I stopped using butter and I didn't really see any more seperation. Maybe (just speculating) it has something to do with butter being part milk solids, so that when you freeze it, it's more likely to seperate than, say, an oil. Also, as regards to butter being a problem, it's not. It's more likely to burn than oil but if you aren't having any trouble then you aren't having any problem.
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
post #15 of 26
before i went to school i only knew a few of the rouxs anyway they tought us about brick roux which you cook the poo out of and it acutaly starts to turn red. kinda cool.

ive never heard of increasing ratio just cooking time. but im a noob so idk.
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
"Some of us Cook. Some of us Grow. All of us Eat."
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
well, lemme see here....

Luc H: "...........the taste of butter" - absolutely. various chef pipples wow on about "nutty flavor" etc. for me - yes, there's something to it. once made the dark roux with canola oil - jeesh.....
I'll stick with the cow juice, thanks . . . . but lard - which I 'stock' for pie crusts, might be an interesting attempt. heh, it's not like they're transfats!

"burning" somewhere I once read something like "if you see black specs, chuck it" and hence those are the guidelines I use. low heat, slow, stir (all but constantly), don't go anywhere, no phone calls... actually, I have been know to take time out to pull a cork, but that's another story.....

GrlcbrkmyGinsu: fascinating collection of letters,,,, anywhey: the separation I see is when cooling in the pan. some clarified butter fat will "pool" - not seen any separation after freezing. I mash it back together - sometimes needing to warm it slightly to form a roll and get re-incorporation.
....i'm also a "roux freezer" - neat - freezer door, top right?

Quinn - brick roux triggers something . . . done did hear about that. I don't think I'm pushing it that far.
".......before I went to school . . " never had the opportunity - definitely just a avid amateur here.
we just came back from an extended family wedding bash - Poughkeepsie - and the CIA was _closed_ for the whole month! major bummer.
post #17 of 26
Dill- Yeah, my name is from when I first got onto the line I had some crappy target ginsus. My chef grabbed one, crushed a clove of garlic with it (all the while smiling and shaking his head), and broke it. One of my favorite kitchen memories. But that's really wierd, I usually get seperation only after refrigeration (a thin layer forms on top of the rest). I'd still say it sounds just about normal. And I keep mine on the lower right hand corner next to the demi-glaze in star shaped ice cubes (demi glaze is in hearts and no I don't think it's girly).

P.S. This Thanksgiving, I'm taking a few cubes of roux and 1 or 2 of demi glaze with me and discreetly dropping them into my mother-in-law's gravy. Thanksgiving there might be tolerable then.
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
post #18 of 26
As stated earlier, it is not the butter that burns but rather the milk residue. If you really want to use butter you can try using ghee which is clarified butter. You can make it yourself if you want. Heat some butter in a pan so that it just melts. So not very hot. A whitish "scum" will form on the top. It will look almost bubbly...Using a spoon remove the scum and what you have left is clarified butter or ghee.

To answer your question, yes. On cooling the flour will seperate from the oil / fat. It should mix back in very easily when you want to use it.

The demi glaze (rich brown sauce) colour that you are trying to achieve is not so much from the roux but is more from the stock or liquid that you use to make the sauce. The roux will contribute to the colour but nothing like what you are expecting.

If you are keen on trying to make demi glaze (also known as demi glace) I will be happy to post a recipe for it. But it takes a long time time. From memory about 8 hours to make the stock then about another 8 hours of reduction to make the sauce.

I still don't really understand why you want to freeze the roux. I understand that you want it for later use and that is fine. But it does not matter when you use it, you still need to make a stock. Whether it's a stock from the pan, as in pan gravy, or a purpose built stock. Making the stock takes a lot longer and more work than the roux...So why not make a bigger batch of sauce at a mid colour and freeze that?

That is exactly what I do! Each two months or so I make a big (about 5 litres) pot of gravy base. I just make a basic stock from vege scraps and sometimes bones. When it's done, I divide about half into small feezer containers and freeze it. The other half is just put in a large plastic bowl and covered with cling wrap and kept in the fridge. If you practice proper food handling and your fridge works properly, it should last 3 or 4 weeks...unless you eat it before then!

If you make it thicker than normal, which is what I do, then when you want to use it, it will be thick enough to take the extra liquid. For example, if you wanted a red wine gravy, you simply thaw, heat, add red wine, heat and serve.

I hope all that is of help.:)
post #19 of 26
A roux is a suspension of flour particles, each enclosed in a globule of fat. The starch in the flour forms an adhesive for the fat. When the starch is convereted by a process called dextrinisation aka the Maillard reaction which Luc described. As a result there is are fewer starch molecules per particle to hold the fat. When the dark or brick roux is chilled, there is some separation of the fat, milk solid and water components of the butter. That and the lower adherence results in the butter separating out of the roux.

You are not the first person to notice this.

Your solution to increase the flour ratio is a recognized solution. You're not the first person to think of it but since you arrived it at independently much credit is due. Since it works, keep doing it.

Returning to an earlier thought, it is because the flour particles are separated by fat that they thicken liquid smoothly rather than clumping and forming lumps. As long as the flour is held by the fat in such a way that it will thicken without clumpingl, you're in like Flynn. I'm not sure if the improvised ratio is still properly called a roux or not. But what's in a name?

How demi glace got into this discussion isn't really clear to me, but for what it's worth: A classic demi is an espagnole daughter made from equal quantities of espagnole and veal stock, then reduced by half. An espagnole is a 25% reduction of veal stock and aromatics thickened with a medium-dark roux and structured by tomato. If you've got the stock, it takes about 3 hours to make a gallon (typical restaurant quantity for a week) of decent espagnole, and another 1-1/2 to make a quart of demi. If you're interested in espagnole there's a thread that was going earlier this spring. It was actually a pretty good thread if you like crotchety old men talking about how it used to be and how you kids shot it all to #ell.

Pardon the digression. A good dark roux is part of the price of admission when it comes to good cajun and creole cooking as well as certain aspects of "French" cooking like making a demi. Sounds like you can not only do it, but you can do it under pressure and understand the process well enough to improvise.

No more dry matini glasses, ever.

post #20 of 26
Yes, dextrinisation is in fact what happens to starch in a roux but it is not part of the Maillard reaction.... my turn to give details.

*****Warning**** below is a detailed food chemistry description of how a brown roux is achieved. Read at your own risk *****warning*****.

Starch is a polymer of glucose. Glucose is a 8 sided molecule (like a stop sign). Glucose molecules link together in a straight chain. The link are opposite each other. It is possible for glucose to make a side ways link hence a 3rd latching point.

Starch is a tree like structure. Most limbs are straight and occasionally branch out (a three point attachment). The straight limbs are called dextrin. Dextrin mix with water is very adhesive and is used extensively in commercial carpenter's glue for example but have no fat binding capabilities. Of the 3 possible glucose links the side attachment is the weakess.

Dextrinisation is when side chains break away when high dry heat is applied to the starch hence dextrin strands are obtained. Dextrin chains can also break in several parts when heat is applied. This reaction happens above 100C or 212C so water is not present. If water is present, starch can only be cooked at 100C. Starch soaks up water and gels when heated.

Dextrin chains have a non-reactive inert end and a reactive end called the <reducing end>. A dextrin's reducing end is the side that was previously attached to the trunk of the starch. Knowing starch is a treelike structure, only the bottom trunk end is reactive not the limb extremities.

the Maillard reaction happens when a reducing sugar reacts with a free amino acid (protein) in the presence of heat (above 100C or 212F) in the absence of humidity.

Here is the reactive steps behind the dark roux formation:

Starch and butter are combined. Heated. All the water boils off which is witnessed when the mixture foams. All the humidity in the flour and the water in the butter is boiled out. During this process the mixture stays more or less around 100C and increases slowly as more water is lossed. Once the water is all gone and the starch is technically <dry>, the temperature of the mixture increases. At above 250 or so, the starch is dextrinified which liberates reducing sugar ends. At the same time, any free amino acids not linked to proteins (mostly found in butter), will react with the sugars producing a brown compound (which happens to taste something as well). While the heat is maintained, more dextrin is produced and broken, more reducing sugars become available. At the same time, proteins break-up to liberating free amino acid. The Maillard reaction is maintained because components are continually being produced. A roux is borned and getting darker (and more flavourful). Cut the heat, stops the reaction.

The roux's capacity to gel water diminished are it gets darker.

Sorry I had to clarify the term above. When it comes to food science I am a stickler to details.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
..........not part of the Maillard reaction.

I was wondering how long it was going to take to get around to that bit.....

as far as I have been able to determine, there is no such thing as a Maillard reaction. I can't find more than one people who agree on what it is.

as a result, I do not use "the Maillard reaction" in my cooking, I just brown the stuff.
post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 

I'm not burning the butter or the flour. not sure why people insist my problem is burnt offerings - it isn't.

I would not consider making up 5 liters of gravy in advance. that would take 2-3 weeks to consume in our household and I'm not keen on having the same tasting gravy for weeks at a clip.
besides, the refrigerator isn't big enough to store all that kind of stuff.

<demi glace> been there done that takes forever, you're right. not entirely practical for the home chef.......

I just want to make dark color gravy/sauce for tonight's dinner, as appropriate. today it's a beef roast, tomorrow perhaps pork. if I enjoyed all those nice chemical concoctions I could fill my need with powdered mixes or perhaps canned/jarred "schufft." frankly I find having some dark roux on hand to thicken up whatever I've extracted out of the pan to be hugely convenient and right dang tasty. still need to make a stock
perhaps true in a restaurant setting where a night's service takes 15 gallons of "x"
this is not true in the - or more accurately "my" - home kitchen. typically I'm thickening up a "just-deglazed-the-pan" liquid.
confession: in my pantry you will find chicken, beef and vegetable stock in cans/tetra paks.... sometimes I cheat.
truth be tolt, onced uponst a time I did the whole bone roast, reduction, stock, portion, freeze, etc., thing. reality: after trying multiple canned stock sources, I've found some that taste just as good as anything I (remember: amateur speaking here....) produced and like way whole lots easier to "handle"

on a scale of 1 to 10, I may only achieve a 6 or 7 - but that's gotta be more tastier than the folks checking out with a cartfull of frozen TV dinners.

anyway, thank you for your input and opinions - and the other folks too - apparently "separating butter" is not an unknown issue and I'll just carry on.

now, who want to talk about really good homemade broetchen? <sigh>
post #23 of 26


Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 
somewhere in the hinterland of this thread,,,, I do keep a jug of "Gravy Master" on hand. close as I can figure, it's watered down dark caramelized sugar in a bottle.

a blonde roux turned brown with food coloring does not convey the same taste.

it's all about taste, no?

theory: good
reality: ahmmmm, errrrrrrrr, lacking.....
post #25 of 26
You may hang with too high a class of cook and chef. I've read or heard the odd professional use the term, including Jeremiah Tower, Ken Frank, Herve This, Michael Ruhlman, Ferrari Adria, Harold McGee and Thomas Keller among others.

On the other hand, you're the first I've heard say brown roux is identical to blond or white except for the color. To my palate, the tastes are quite different, as different as the tastes of fresh and toasted bread; and all of my references agree.

FWIW, "Parisian Essence" doesn't exist here in the States. The equivalent is probably something like Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master. And yes, I googled Parisian + Essence.


ON EDIT: It is indeed all about the taste.
post #26 of 26
I've deleted a few posts and I'm locking this thread.

Do not PM me.
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