February 23rd, 2005

I don’t want it to be said that I don’t look after my readers, so here’s a couple of answers to reader Elaine‘s question “…what are roux and andouille?” from a non-cook’s perspective (my own).

Roux cooked in a skillet
Roux is a rich, dark brown gravy made by combining equal parts of some kind of fat (I use canola oil because of the high smoking point, but I think butter’s most commonly called for) that’s been made very hot and flour. The flour should sizzle as your add it and you have to stir, stir, stir so none of it sticks and burns. A good iron skillet, well-seasoned, is indispensable for this project. It’s the base for many gravies, sauces, and (of course) gumbo. Roux 1
In grocery stores in Louisiana and Mississippi you can buy the flour and oil mixture cooked together already, so that all you have to do is heat it up, which is what I was referring to as cheater roux. It cuts prep time down a great deal, as making the roux alone can take a good half hour.

Here’s a basic recipe for roux, from The Joy of Cooking’s entry on Chicken Gumbo, p. 119:

…Add to the skillet 1/2 cup vegetable oil {note: your skillet is already hot from having browned the chicken in it at this point}. Whisk in 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Cook, stirring often over medium-low heat until the roux turns reddish brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Gently stir with a long-handled wooden spoon, using caution, because the roux is extremely hot and sticks to the skin.

As for andouille, it’s a type of sausage. It’s usually pork and usually coarse ground, which I think is some of what makes it successful in gumbo. A cajun smoked beef sausage is also suitable, if actual andouille can’t be found. Also, according to this website, I should be subbing kielbasa (which is available here) for andouille in a pinch. Maybe I’ll try that.

iTunes says I was listening to I Should Know from the album Dirty Vegas by Dirty Vegas when I posted this. I have it rated 4 stars.

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