Culinary word defined: What is roux?

What does roux and a kangaroo have in common? Luckily not much in culinary terms, but in phonetics a lot. The latter part of the fighting marsupial’s name is how you pronounce this classic foundation in so many dishes: Roux is simply pronounced “roo.”

So, what is the stuff?

Roux is just flour and fat cooked together. Two simple ingredients, but together they can do a lot.

The flour is usually white wheat flour such as the popular all-purpose kind, and the fat can be just about anything: butter, vegetable oil, bacon grease or drippings from other meat.

Roux isn’t meant to be eaten by itself, but is used as a thickening agent in soups, stews, gravies and sauces. Unlike, say, a cornstarch and water slurry, roux can lend dishes a nutty flavor and even color, depending on how long you cook it.

In the coming days I’ll show you how to make roux, and from there, how to make a lovely bechamel sauce. But wait, there’s more! From our bechamel, we’ll make a bangin’ cheese sauce.

Stay tuned for those coming attractions. For now, make sure you have some flour and oil in your pantry, and sprinkle in a “roo” here and there in your conversations.

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