Let’s Talk New Orleans Gumbo: Roux 101

 To thicken a gumbo with a roux isn’t difficult, however, it takes more attention as you don’t want it to burn. Basically, a roux is a mixture of equal parts flour and fat that is cooked together prior to incorporating into a stew. The fat can be butter, oil, lard, or even bacon grease.

A dark roux is required to get that rich and classic taste authentic New Orleans  gumbo is known for A heavy cast iron pot properly seasoned will make your best gumbo. But any heavy pot is fine.

I like to cook the roux in the cast iron skillet I’m going to make the gumbo in. If you make it in a skillet, which is fine, you’ll have to move it after your veggies are wilted into your gumbo pot.


Always use equal amounts of oil and flour when making roux.  Remember this simple rule when increasing the amount of roux made.

1 cup vegetable shortening or vegetable oil (your choice)*
1 cup all-purpose flour

Combine ingredients, in the cast ion skillet at the same time and stir constantly over medium-high heat with a wooden spoon. 

If you stop stirring – the flour will burn.  Never walk away from your roux.  If you see black specks in the roux, you have ruined it.  Dump it out and start over. The secret to getting perfect roux is to take your time and stir constantly.

Some of my friends make their roux in the oven to avoid constant stirring.. But that takes the experience away, at least for me. There’s also, the store brought roux and that has me shaking my head right now. Roux is not hard to make, only two ingredients and stirring. There’s the challenge of getting the color down to a science, but if you have a good pot or skillet and keep your flame to medium heat, you will be fine.

But here’s the recipe for Baked Roux:

Place the vegetable oil and flour into a cast iron pot or skillet and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours, whisking every 30 minutes throughout the cooking process. I like to take my roux to the edge of darkness, so I’ll leave it in closer to the 2 hour mark. If you choose to do that, in the last half hour you’ll want to stir every 15 minutes. If not, 1.5 hours is just fine.

  • The roux is now starting to color ever so slightly, and is what is called a blonde roux. Blonde roux is used in preparations where you want the benefit of roux’s thickening properties but you don’t want it to affect the taste of the dish, like in a white sauce. If your recipe calls for a darker roux, turn the heat down now to medium or medium-low.

  • The roux has now cooked to the color of peanut butter. If your recipe calls for it to be cooked darker than this, be even more vigilant about stirring and paying attention to what is going on in the pot. If at any point you feel the roux is browning too fast, turn the heat down further.

  • The roux is now the color of a copper penny. You can stop here or you can continue to cook it until it is the color of milk chocolate, as called for in this gumbo. The best way to keep a roux from getting any darker is to have the vegetables and sausage prepped for the next step and to add them as soon as the desired color of roux is achieved; this will immediately drop the temperature of the roux.



New Orleans celebrity Chef Emeril says the time it takes to drink a beer is how long it will take to get your roux to copper penny consistency.



Roux (/ˈr/) is flour and fat cooked together and used to thicken sauces.[1] Roux is typically made from equal parts of flour and fat by weight.[2] The flour is added to the melted fat or oil on the stove top, blended until smooth, and cooked to the desired level of brownness. Buttervegetable oils, bacon drippings or lard are commonly used fats. Roux is used as a thickening agent for gravysaucessoups and stews. It provides the base for a dish, and other ingredients are added after the roux is complete

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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