The basis for al kinds of sauces
Some of the recipes on Coquinaria describe how a soup, sauce or ragout is thickened with a roux. Many sauces in the classic French cuisine are based on this technique.
Making a roux is not difficult. Just remember that the amounts of butter and flour must be the same in weight. For cooks that prefer using volume as a way of measuring, that will pose a problem, as one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon flour do not weigh the same. And one tablespoon butter must be soft or melted butter, otherwise it will not fill the spoon. At the request of Mr. Brink, who notified me of the difficulties in this regard for American cooks, I have added extra information below the table.
|30 to 50 gr
|1 litre (2 pints)
|40 to 50 gr
|½ litre (1 pint)
|½ litre (1 pint)
30 gr butter = 2 tablespoons, 30 gr flour = 4 tablespoons or ¼ cup.
45 gr butter = 3 tablespoons, 45 gr flour = 6 tablespoons or ⅜ cup.
60 gr butter = 4 tablespoons, 60 gr flour = 8 tablespoons or ½ cup.
There are several kinds of roux, depending how hot and dark the butter gets before adding the flour. For most preparations a white roux is used.
To make white roux
- Pour the liquid in a measuring cup. The liquid can be hot ot cold.
- Weigh butter and flour, both equal amounts. Weighing is preferable to using volume.
- Melt the butter, preferably in a sauce pan with a bottom that is not too thin.
- Before the butter starts to darken, add the flour in one go.
- Stir with a wooden spatula until butter and flour have blended. Keep the fire low, keep stirring, and allow the flour to ‘sweat’ a couple of minutes. Officially, it should take at least fifteen minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the liquid to the pan. As soon as it joins the mixture, it will change into a doughy structure. Keep stirring with the spatula until all lumps are gone. Many people use a whisk or electric mixer for this part of the process, but in my experience that is not necessary.
- As soon as the liquid has been absorbed, add another small amount of it, and keep stirring until the roux is smooth once more. It will begin to become less firm.
- Add more and more liquid in small amounts and keep stirring.
- When more liquid has been added, it is possible to add more new liquid in one go. But do not add more liquid before all the liquid in the pan has been absorbed by the roux.
- The sauce is ready. When you want a thicker sauce, simply stop when you are satisfied. For a thinner sauce, just add a little more liquid
Once the art of making a roux is captured, you’ll never need to buy packaged sauces with unwanted additions again. Plus, the possibilities of combining ingredients are endless, you do not need to buy a new package every time yu ant to make another sauce.
The difference between white and a brown roux is that the butter has turned really dark before adding the flour. There is also a blond roux, which is between white and brown roux. Brown roux is the basis for one of the great sauces of Classic French Cuisine, the sauce espagnole.
Variations for sauces
- Fry onion and/or garlic in the butter
- Add spices to the butter
- Fresh green herbs are often added just befire serving
- Bacon can also be added. However, that also adds extra fat, so use less butter or fry the bacon separately.
- To make a cheese sauce, use milk instead of stock, and stir in the grated or cubed cheese when the bechamel is ready. Use any cheese you want, fresh, hard, blue, goat or sheep, everything is possible.
- Use tomato puree for a roux-based tomato sauce
- Use the liquid in which fish was poached with white wine for fish sauce
- you can use the liquid in which vegetables were boiled to make a sauce for the same vegetables
- To make an extra refined sauce, add a raw egg yolk to it (without curdling the sauce of course)
Béchamel is a sauce made from a roux with milk or cream. This recipe can be used to make a sauce for lasagna, for example.
To make five decilitre sauce; preparation 10 to 15 minutes.
60 gr (4 Tbsp) butter
60 gr (cup) bloem
5 dl (2 cups) milk or cream
white pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste
See the description above on how to prepare a roux. When the béchamel sauce is finished, keep stirring once in a while to prevent the surface from congealing.
Basic recipe for roux and Béchamel sauce