|You probably won't get it semi-sweet chocolate brown, but you can still get a great taste and get it this brown.|
Anyone who has cooked from Cajun recipes knows that many of them start with "First you make a roux." I don't know how many recipes I have written in my own hand dictating what my grandmother was telling me in person or on the phone that begin with "First you make a roux."
There are different types of roux for different uses. This recipe is being made for a gumbo. There are also different fats and oils used in roux, depending on preference and what it will be used for. Many of my grandmother's recipes call for "oleo." I prefer to use butter for nearly everything, and like to make roux with butter. You've got that milk fat in butter, though, and that can present a problem when you're really trying to brown the roux unless you clarify the butter first.
Before we went gluten-free, I made roux without fear. I could get it really brown and it smelled fantastic. Then I was introduced to Kary's Roux and Kary's Dry Roux and I got lazy. (Any chance Kary's will ever make a GF version??) I made gumbo more often because I didn't have the work of the roux. When we went gluten-free, it took me a full year to attempt making a gluten-free roux. I was scared, but I wanted gumbo for New Year's Eve so I braved it, and it was good.
You aren't going to get the exact same results with gluten-free roux as you will using all-purpose wheat flour. It's not going to brown as much as it did pre-GF, and it won't be quite the same texture. But you can still get that great nutty smell and a good taste. Don't be afraid of the work -- and it is work -- it's always worth it!
I'll start this by saying that I may have been able to get this roux to brown a little more. I'd been working on it for an hour and 15 minutes, but the gas company had to come check our lines and was going to have to turn the gas off and therefore my flame would be gone so I had to get this done before they turned it off.
Normally you would use equal parts fat/oil and flour. The gluten-free flours don't swell as much, though, so as in the case of these photos where I did use almost equal parts oil and flour (used a little more flour), there was too much oil left at the end. It wasn't hard, though, to tilt the pan a little and spoon out some excess.
I have also started experimenting with weight of flour vs. by the cup, so I had a little more than the oil in flour. I like to use brown rice flour for roux because it's already a little brown, which helps, but I think I may add a little sweet rice flour to the combination next time around.
Projected prep time: 5 minutes; Projected cook time (constant stirring): It took 1 hr. 15 min. for it to get this brown
3/4 c. oil or other fat (I used canola oil this time, see note above about butter)
98 grams brown rice flour (about a little more than a level 3/4 cup -- a rounded one, perhaps? See note above)
I like to use a cast iron skillet for roux. If you don't have one, use a heavy pan. Also, a roux paddle or flat wooden utensil is important because you're able to scrape every little bit from the edges as you stir.
Heat your skillet and oil, then add your flour and blend well.
Continue to cook on medium-low heat while stirring and scraping constantly. You won't be able to leave the stove when you cook roux. Don't answer the door or the telephone. Don't get something to eat for your 4-year-old who is home sick (it was probably not the best time for me to make this, but in all fairness I did give her a snack and cup of water before starting the roux).
Some of these photos will be blurry because I wasn't taking the time to really focus on them.
Continue to cook, stirring, stirring and scraping. It will gradually get darker and darker. Be careful not to let it splatter on you when you stir. It will give you a nasty burn. And then you'll probably burn the roux because you'll be taking care of said burn.
Now you're probably going to want to turn the heat down to the lowest flame you can and continue cooking, stirring, stirring, scraping. Have patience, and keep it up. It should be smelling so good that when your significant other walks into the house they think you are cooking something fabulous. And you are.
Keep stirring after you've turned the heat off. If you plan to go ahead with your gumbo at this point, follow the recipe here. If not, you can stop here and let it cool, while you continue to stir until it is much cooler, then you can transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for use later in the week or put it in the freezer. When you reheat it, just stir it really well and continue on with the gumbo. If you feel like you have too much oil in it, like I did as noted above, you can easily tilt the pan a little and spoon some of it out. Just make sure you don't get it on you.
It's not as brown as I'd like my gumbo roux, but it smells fantastic and still gives a great flavor, and that's the important thing, right? Now onto the gumbo ...