Monday, December 10, 2012

Not all Rouxs are created equally- Beef Stew w/ Potatoes

The Roux

'Roux' is a French term meaning "reddish brown". However, not all rouxs are created equally. A roux is a mixture of flour and fat, which can be butter, lard, oil, or other forms used to thicken sauces. Depending upon the ingredients used and the length of time in which it is cooked, different flavors can be created.

A butter and flour roux cooked lightly will make a roux with a lighter taste and lighter color for dishes with lighter sauces such as a potato soup or other creamy sauces. These are referred to as "white" rouxs. On the flip side, a roux made from flour and oil and cooked for an hour or so will provide a darker sauce for darker dishes and will give you a richer flavor. Most Cajuns particularly like this method for creating their stews and gumbos.

These darker rouxs can be created in two different ways. A "blond" or "chocolate" roux is cooked until a brown color appears, normally about 15 to 20 minutes. Cooking your roux longer, up to an hour, will create a more reddish appearance; hence the term "brick" roux. The longer a roux is cooked, the more flavors are added to your dish. However, the longer it is cooked, the less thickening power it has. Over time, chefs have experimented with different ingredients to create the same effects of rouxs. Some opt to use wheat flour, while others toast flour to eliminate the high fat content in their dishes.

Mr. Pete's Preferred Roux

Mr. Pete has always created what is known as the "brick" roux, bringing out more flavors in his dishes. He likes to create his darker "reddish" roux with flour and cooking oil and cook down until almost the burning point. He uses this method, because of the higher smoking point with cooking oil.  It allows for a chef to cook the roux longer without reaching the burning point and notice the darker colors and flavors. When Mr. Pete wants to thicken further, a bit of corn starch can assist him with his desired texture.

Roux Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup cooking oil

Roux Directions:
Heat stove to highest setting. Add oil to a thick, heavy pot. Once oil has reached a temperature of 350 degrees, turn fire to medium heat and add flour slowly stirring. Continue stirring the mixture constantly. Mr. Pete finds that stirring in a figure 8 motion allows him to mix together the mixture better. The mixture will start out as a white color. As you continue mixing the ingredients, the color will darken. Cook roux for a minimum of 20 minutes. Cooking the roux longer achieves an even darker color. Continue stirring until you have reached the desired color.

Stew Ingredients:
3 lbs. beef stew meat, cut in 1/2" cubes
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup bellpeppers, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 cup potatoes, cut in small bite-size pieces
2-3 tablespoons Mr. Pete's Cajun Seasoning
salt to taste
2 teaspoons preferred hot sauce
1 cup green onions, diced

Stew Directions:
Once your roux has been made, immediately add the onions to stop the roux from cooking. Soften onions for about 3 minutes, then add celery, bellpeppers, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of Mr. Pete's Cajun Seasoning to the pot. Stir vegetables and seasoning together for another 3 minutes. Add beef stew meat and another 1 tablespoon of Mr. Pete's Seasoning to the pot, stir, and cook until browned.

Add 4 cups of water to your pot, cover, and cook on medium for an hour and a half to tenderize the meat. Continue adding more water as needed during this stage of cooking and stirring occasionally.

At this point, your meat should be just about tender, and the veggies and seasoning has been cooking together. Taste your sauce to determine whether you will need more seasoning or salt. Add the final tablespoon of Mr. Pete's Cajun Seasoning, hot sauce, and salt if needed. Taste your sauce again to make sure you have the right flavor balance. Add the potatoes. Cover and cook for 13 minutes or until potatoes have softened. Turn off fire, remove pot from heat, and stir in green onions. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes for sauce to thicken. Serve over rice.

Make sure to visit Mr. Pete's Kitchen to order your Cajun Seasoning; and find his other great blends while you're there! Get Hooked On It!!!

Thank you for reading! Please do share with us how you make your roux! And we'd love to hear about your cooking experiences if you create this flavorful dish!

~Mrs. Pete

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