A “roux” is an essential part of Cajun cooking (Louisiana and East Texas) and usually involves wheat flour and fat (such as vegetable oil). When water is substituted for the fat, the roux has been called “cowboy roux” since at least 2006.
“Cowboy roux” is not necessarily a cooking philosophy of Texans, but “cowboy” here means a “rough-riding” or “hard-scrabble” or “do-it-yourself” way of cooking. One citation below calls this “water roux” by the term “Chinese roux” (an ethnic slur for “cheap,” as in a “Chinese base hit”).
Roux (IPA: /ˈruː/) (pronounced somewhat like the English word “rue”) is a mixture of wheat flour and fat. It is the basis of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: sauce béchamel, sauce velouté, and sauce espagnole. Butter, vegetable oils, or lard are common fats used. It is used as a base for gravy, other sauces, soufflés, soups and stews.
The fat is heated in a pot or pan melting it if necessary, then the flour is added. The mixture is stirred until the flour is incorporated and then cooked until at least the point where a raw flour taste is no longer apparent and until desired color has been reached. The final results can range from the nearly white to the nearly black, depending on the length of time it is over the heat, and its intended use. The end result is a thickening and flavoring agent.
Roux is most often made with butter as the fat base but it may be made with any edible fat. In the case of meat gravies, they are often made with rendered fat from the meat. In regional American cuisine, bacon is sometimes fried to produce fat to use in the roux. Vegetable oil is often used when producing dark roux as it does not burn at high temperatures like butter will.
When combining roux with water-based liquids, such as broth or milk, it is important that these liquids are not excessively hot. It is preferable to add room temperature or warm liquid into a moderately hot or warm roux. They should be added in small quantities to the roux while stirring, to ensure proper mixing. Otherwise, the mixture will be very lumpy, not homogeneous, and not properly thickened.
Cooks can cheat by adding a mixture of water and wheat flour to a dish which needs thickening since the heat of boiling water will release the starch from the flour, however this temperature is not high enough to eliminate the floury taste. A mixture of water and flour used in this way is colloquially known as cowboy roux since it imparts a flavor to the finished dish which a traditional haute cuisine chef would consider unacceptable.
May 19, 2006
How To Make A Roux
A roux is an essential ingredient for many cajun dishes, including one of my absolute favorites, etouffee (Seafood Etouffee recipe to come very soon). The basic principle of a roux is to mix some kind of fat with flour. It can be used as a thickening agent for gravies, a base for a bechamel, a base for etouffee and gumbo, or as a base for lots of other interesting creations and fusion stuff. And there are lots of kinds of rouxs. Some people use bacon fat and flour, others use some type of oil and flour. When thickening gravy, I just mix flour with water (call a “cowboy roux”). But in my opinion (formed more by theft from other recipe sources than extensive experimentation), the proper roux for etouffee, jambalaya, and other cajun dishes is made with butter (except for gumbo, which requires a really dark roux and so is better with oil). It isn’t difficult, but it does take a little time if you want to do it right.
WE CAN SEE YOU
22nd-Nov-2006 01:16 pm
I love GRAVY!
in another sauce pan or big pot, make a roux by melting butter then adding flour and whisking till it’s at least a tan color- the longer and browner the rue the more flavorful the gravy…...how much flour and butter to make the rue depends on how much gravy you plan on making. I always make a lot. if it turns out you made too little roux and your gravy is on the thin side, you can always make a cowboy roux, but, ideally and with practice you wont have to do that as the flour taste is a lil apparent from a cowboy roux.
do not use a slurry (blech) when making a gravy.
The Chef’s Kitchen
Re: French Terminology Save to MyRecipesby bear on Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:31 am
surley uncooked flour and butter is beurre manier,added to thicken after main cooking is done,flour & water=chinese roux/cowboy roux,and aint life too short to worry about what you call bunging a bit more flour in,I’m with Jonesy’s french bloke.
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From: Buffalo Bob
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 08:05:03 -0700
Local: Wed, Sep 12 2007 10:05 am
Subject: Re: What is Gravity? Why/How does it work?
Thickened gravies are usually made starting with a roux made of wheat flour, cornstarch/cornflour, or arrowroot. The liquids from cooked meat, the liquids from dissolved bouillon cubes/stock cubes, or stock are added gradually to the mixture, while continually stirring to ensure that it mixes properly and the thickener doesn’t clump. In some recipes the animal fat in the roux may be omitted as part of the base due to its saturated fat content. It may be replaced with cornstarch/cornflour alone (see cowboy roux) or is sometimes omitted entirely.
* Vegetarian gravy is gravy made suitable for vegetarians. One recipe uses vegetarian stock cubes with corn flour as a thickener (Cowboy Roux), which is whisked into boiling water. Sometimes vegetable juices are added, which may give the gravy a dark green color. There are also commercially produced gravy granules which are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
RE: Cooking & Recipes - 5/23/2008 6:50:30 AM
And a nice basic thickener for a sauce (and a base for three different sauces), a Roux, a mixture of heated fat and flour. I was taught to add equal parts. You can cheat and use water and flour . . . . .but that is disgraceful if you can swing the real way and the taste of water-roux (cowboy-roux) is bleh, can taste the flour. Okay, I’m done rambling for now