All of the recipes I can find for gumbo or ettouffee say to make the gumbo first, then add the veggies, eat and stock. However, I was always taught to add roux near the end of cooking other dishes. Should the roux be first? If so, is there a benefit?
“First you make a roux!” (That’s jokingly said to be the first step of any Cajun/creole recipe as it’s used in so many recipes down in southern Louisiana.) Good question. When I use roux, I usually use it at the start of a stew or sauce. Typically, in Southern Louisiana cooking, your chopped vegetables are added to the roux, roasted a bit in this roux, and then the liquid is added. I’m not sure how much difference it would make if the roux was added at the end, but roux in Louisiana cooking is usually roasted to peanut butter coloring (or even darker) and is used as much for its thickening properties as it is for flavor.Perhaps the flavors permeate the dish better if added in early in cooking?
Because you make the roux so dark in a gumbo, the best way to stop the cooking process and prevent burning is to add food to the roux. Also, like pulykamell said, the roux is a flavoring agent in dishes like gumbo. Starting with it allows the flavor to touch everything. It’s like the difference between seasoning as you cook and just putting a salt shaker on the table when you serve the food.
Add me to the “I dunno, I always make the roux first” list. But if you try it, please let us know how it turns out. You will miss out on my favorite part though, which is adding the veggies to the sizzling hot roux, and instantly filling the kitchen with that wonderful smell.