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Argent Towers 01-26-2011 01:03 AM

Cooking with roux in a crock pot
 
I am making beef stew (organic local meat only!) tomorrow in a crock pot, so it will cook for 8 hours. (I'll start the crock pot at noon.) I have done all the prep work tonight, including making about 2 cups of Tony Chachere's instant roux. I bought the stuff today while at the store because I wanted the stew to be thicker, and not just beef soup with chunks of vegetables. I also made Mirepoix to go in the stew.

My question is: should I put the roux into the crock pot tomorrow with all the other ingredients (cubed meat, mirepoix, red wine, etc), mix it all together and then start the cooking - or should I put the roux in after the stew is already cooked?

How do I make sure the roux mixes smoothly with the stew?

Thanks.

Terraplane 01-26-2011 09:47 AM

I've never used instant roux before but this site says you can wait until the end to add it, just be sure to mix the roux in a separate container and whisk all the lumps out before you add it to the stew.

Snickers 01-26-2011 09:59 AM

I just made a stew recipe from Cooks Illustrated in my crock pot, and it used quick cooking tapioca as a thickener. I think a tablespoon or so? I dumped it in with the rest of my ingredients at the start of cooking and stirred it around. Absolutely could not tell that it was in there.

Another thickener you could use at the end is cornstarch (I think). Put it in a small jar with some water and shake it vigorously to combine. I think it might be easier to mix in than a roux, but I'm not certain.

Diogenes the Cynic 01-26-2011 10:06 AM

I would mix the roux with some water or stock and put it in at the beginning with everything else. You CAN put it in late, but there's really no reason to wait, and it will absorb and combine with the flavors better if you put it in at the beginning. It will also add better color.

I would never use instant roux, though.

pulykamell 01-26-2011 10:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Snickers (Post 13397050)
I just made a stew recipe from Cooks Illustrated in my crock pot, and it used quick cooking tapioca as a thickener. I think a tablespoon or so? I dumped it in with the rest of my ingredients at the start of cooking and stirred it around. Absolutely could not tell that it was in there.

Another thickener you could use at the end is cornstarch (I think). Put it in a small jar with some water and shake it vigorously to combine. I think it might be easier to mix in than a roux, but I'm not certain.

You can always add your slurry (starch & water) or roux (starch & fat) at the end, and your stew will thicken up just fine. While I do all my Cajun or creole dishes starting with the roux (usually you cook the roux quite dark and the point of the roux in these dishes is as much flavor as it is thickener), anything else I'm fine with adding it at the very end and cooking it long enough to get the raw flavor out and to get all the thickening power out of it.

Chefguy 01-26-2011 10:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic (Post 13397070)
I would mix the roux with some water or stock and put it in at the beginning with everything else. You CAN put it in late, but there's really no reason to wait, and it will absorb and combine with the flavors better if you put it in at the beginning. It will also add better color.

I would never use instant roux, though.

We're talking about two different animals here. Roux (flour cooked in oil) is employed at the beginning of the cooking cycle and the lukewarm liquid from the dish is added to the warm or hot roux (think gravy). Adding roux to hot liquid will usually result in lumps, which is why it's made first.

Thickeners (or white wash), on the other hand (such as flour, cornstarch, etc. mixed with water), may be added at the end, since the hot liquid will release the starches in the flour. The problem with this method is that the dish will likely taste floury, since the flour has not cooked.

Diogenes the Cynic 01-26-2011 10:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chefguy (Post 13397144)
We're talking about two different animals here. Roux (flour cooked in oil) is employed at the beginning of the cooking cycle and the lukewarm liquid from the dish is added to the warm or hot roux (think gravy). Adding roux to hot liquid will usually result in lumps, which is why it's made first.

Thickeners (or white wash), on the other hand (such as flour, cornstarch, etc. mixed with water), may be added at the end, since the hot liquid will release the starches in the flour. The problem with this method is that the dish will likely taste floury, since the flour has not cooked.

I thought OP was talking specifically about roux. With slurries, of course, you do usually add them at the end, but I'm not a fan of slurries unless I'm in a hurry. They're not very flavorful, and as you said, they can taste floury.

Joey P 01-26-2011 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chefguy (Post 13397144)
Thickeners (or white wash), on the other hand (such as flour, cornstarch, etc. mixed with water), may be added at the end, since the hot liquid will release the starches in the flour. The problem with this method is that the dish will likely taste floury, since the flour has not cooked.

This is true (the dish will taste floury), but when I add it at the end I'm usually fine if I make sure I still have at least 20 minutes of cooking time left.

Terraplane 01-26-2011 10:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic (Post 13397162)
I thought OP was talking specifically about roux. With slurries, of course, you do usually add them at the end, but I'm not a fan of slurries unless I'm in a hurry. They're not very flavorful, and as you said, they can taste floury.

Not roux, instant roux. I've never used the instant but looking online it seems there's a big difference. Instant roux is basically some flour mixed with spices and it looks like you use it the same way you'd use cornstarch, tapioca, or... flour mixed with spices.

Doctor Who 01-26-2011 11:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terraplane (Post 13397214)
Not roux, instant roux. I've never used the instant but looking online it seems there's a big difference. Instant roux is basically some flour mixed with spices and it looks like you use it the same way you'd use cornstarch, tapioca, or... flour mixed with spices.

Never used it either, although I have done this: Dump flour into an iron skillet (3 or 4 cups of flour). Stick in a 400-degree oven for around an hour. Stir occasionally so it browns evenly. Let cool and store. When you need a thickener, mix 1:1 with water. Dump it into whatever needs thickening. I'm just guessing, but I bet this is your basic instant roux recipe.

Diogenes the Cynic 01-26-2011 11:12 AM

That's not a roux, though, it's a slurry. A roux is flour cooked in fat or oil. I assumed "instant roux" was some sort of jarred roux (which I've seen before). If it's just flour and spices, it's not a roux unless it's mixed with a fat.

pulykamell 01-26-2011 11:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chefguy (Post 13397144)
We're talking about two different animals here. Roux (flour cooked in oil) is employed at the beginning of the cooking cycle and the lukewarm liquid from the dish is added to the warm or hot roux (think gravy). Adding roux to hot liquid will usually result in lumps, which is why it's made first.

Sorry, I should have clarified--while if I thicken at the end, it's usually with a slurry, I have used a roux before. The difference in approach is I would make my roux and add the hot stew a ladle at a time into the roux. After a few ladles and the liquid being sufficiently mixed, it would go back into the big pot of stew. Never noticed a problem doing it this way.

Doctor Who 01-26-2011 11:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic (Post 13397329)
That's not a roux, though, it's a slurry. A roux is flour cooked in fat or oil. I assumed "instant roux" was some sort of jarred roux (which I've seen before). If it's just flour and spices, it's not a roux unless it's mixed with a fat.

I'm pretty sure no one is disagreeing with you, DtC. We all know the difference between a roux and a slurry. But the OP is asking about a product, called "instant roux", which you use like a slurry. Difference is: instead of just being flour or cornstarch, it's supposed to mimic the flavor of a roux. (Much like my little recipe).

Now you want to argue whether or not the instant stuff is a "roux" proper? Justin Wilson would slap us both for even discussing it. Of course not.

ETA: Just looked at Wikipedia... Justin Wilson has been dead for 10 YEARS! Man. It feels like yesterday.

pulykamell 01-26-2011 11:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic (Post 13397329)
That's not a roux, though, it's a slurry. A roux is flour cooked in fat or oil. I assumed "instant roux" was some sort of jarred roux (which I've seen before). If it's just flour and spices, it's not a roux unless it's mixed with a fat.

You are technically right, but that technique is sometimes called an oven roux or oven-baked roux or something of that nature.

You see, as I mentioned before, with Cajun cooking, the adage goes "first you make a roux...." The purpose of the roux is only partially thickening. More important is the flavor imparted by the roasted flour. Most Cajun roux, at least in recipes I've come across, are cooked to at least the peanut butter color stage, some to a dark chocolate. Creole roux tend to be more classical French-style, cooked blonde or perhaps to a light peanut butter color.

Anyhow, in recipes simplifying the process or for those diet-conscious folks, the roux can be oven baked to get a similar roasted flavor with far fewer calories and a lot less hovering over the stove, constantly stirring.

So, yes, you're right. It's not a roux by classical definition. (And I don't like calling it "roux," either.) But it is referred to as roux in certain contexts (usually, as "oven roux.") Here's one recipe from a Cajun recipe site.

Diogenes the Cynic 01-26-2011 11:33 AM

I am originally from Louisana. My grandfather was a genuine Cajun chef. I've been cooking Cajun and Creole food all my life. I'm sorry, but I cannot call toasted dry flour a "roux."

pulykamell 01-26-2011 11:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic (Post 13397420)
I am from Louisana. My grandfather was a genuine Cajun chef. I've been cooking Cajun and Creole food all my life. I'm sorry, but I cannot call toasted dry flour a "roux."

Like I said, I don't like it, either, but there it is. Don't even get me started on what some folks call "chili" or "barbecue." ;)

Chefguy 01-26-2011 11:41 AM

Slurry is also called white wash or even cowboy roux, but I've tasted cowboy coffee and I think I'll pass. :D

Doctor Who 01-26-2011 11:53 AM

From now on, all "instant roux" products will be referred to as: "Non-Roux Un-Cajun Soul-less Baked Flour Mixtures*".

Everybody happy now? Oh, and don't worry... I already reported it to the mods so they can change the thread title to: "Cooking with Non-Roux Un-Cajun Soul-less Baked Flour Mixture in a crock pot."

* Not made or associated with the State of Louisiana

Diogenes the Cynic 01-26-2011 11:57 AM

I appreciate that.

llcoolbj77 01-26-2011 12:59 PM

I agree with pulykamell... this is what I do, and it works beautifully:

About 20 minutes before you want to eat:
-3 tbs. butter
-3 tbs. flour
- 1 to 2 ladels full of hot stock from crock pot

In a small pot, on med.high heat, mix flour and butter. Let the blond paste cook about two minutes. Add in one ladel of stock from the crock pot. Whisk like the dickens. When incorporated, add in second ladel of stock. Whisk like the dickens. Add this mixture directly into the crock pot. Stir well to incorporate. Let the crock pot go an additional 20 - 30 minutes.

I always use this method and I have never had lumpy stew or flour-y tasting stew. Just my two cents.

loshan 01-26-2011 02:16 PM

I live with a cajun and will often add some Tony's instant roux (powdered) to the liquid from a pot roast or whatever to make a quick gravy for rice.
Put it in towards the ends, it will thicken and does give a "rouxish" flavor.
No, it's not roux, but it works in a pinch and as a flavoring.
BTW: it is a Louisiana product. Opelousas, LA to be exact.

For a MUCH better "instant" roux, Savoy's makes a decent dark roux in a jar. Great for gumbo and such when I don't want to spend all day stirring flour.

ETA: I can't get Savoy's here, my SO's sister always includes a couple jars whenever she ships us anything. You can order it at CajunGrocer.com.

Chefguy 01-26-2011 02:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llcoolbj77 (Post 13397861)
I agree with pulykamell... this is what I do, and it works beautifully:

About 20 minutes before you want to eat:
-3 tbs. butter
-3 tbs. flour
- 1 to 2 ladels full of hot stock from crock pot

In a small pot, on med.high heat, mix flour and butter. Let the blond paste cook about two minutes. Add in one ladel of stock from the crock pot. Whisk like the dickens. When incorporated, add in second ladel of stock. Whisk like the dickens. Add this mixture directly into the crock pot. Stir well to incorporate. Let the crock pot go an additional 20 - 30 minutes.

I always use this method and I have never had lumpy stew or flour-y tasting stew. Just my two cents.

As long as you're not adding the roux directly to the soup, but rather diluting first, Bob's your uncle.

Argent Towers 01-26-2011 10:04 PM

I just want to report back to say that the stew turned out very good. Much better than previous times I've made it.

At the start of the cooking, I added two cups of red wine, ketchup, salt and pepper mixed with a few tablespoons of the roux. Then when the stew was done and after it had cooled slightly, I added a full cup of roux.

The texture of the stew was exactly what I was aiming for. Next time I may try making my own roux though.

Aestivalis 01-26-2011 11:54 PM

I made a pseudo-étouffée over the weekend, and used a microwave roux for the first time. I have to say, that was really easy! It was as easy as sticking 1/3 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of oil in a Pyrex cup for 3 minutes. It should pretty simple to add a dose of that to the crockpot at the start of cooking.

SeaDragonTattoo 01-27-2011 12:38 AM

If this helps at all, the way I start a beef stew is to brown the chunks of beef first. I know it kinda defeats the thinking behind one-pot crock cooking, but it's totally worth it. Dredge your beef chunks in flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), then brown them with some butter in a cast iron skillet. Just brown them nicely on med-high heat, don't cook through. That will make a roux that you don't have to think about, and will thicken your stew nicely. Dump all contents and scrapings into the crock. Browning the beef will add a depth of flavor that you can't get any other way.

Also, people may call it an abomination, but if stews don't happen to thicken as much as I'd like for some reason (rare) I have been known to sprinkle in some potato flakes at the end. Can't taste 'em, the dish is usually served with potatoes in it or along side it anyway, and they thicken things up nicely without using a slurry.


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