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Want to make creamy sauces, soups, and gravies? Start with a roux.

The thickening agent, pronounced rῡ, is made from equal parts of all-purpose flour and a fat such as butter, oil, or meat drippings. The mixture is the basis of a number of smooth, creamy sauces.

Melt or warm your choice of fat in a saucepan and stir in the flour.

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Continue stirring until smooth.

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It’s simple enough. The trick is in stirring until blended and continuing to do so as you add more milk, water, or broth. If your roux mixture gets lumpy, either mash the lumps or drain or scoop them out.

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Begin with a roux and add:

  • Creamed broccoli or asparagus, water, and seasonings for a creamed soup;
  • More meat drippings or a soup base, seasonings, and milk or water for gravy to be used over meat or mashed potatoes;
  • More meat drippings or a soup base, seasonings, and milk or water for gravy in stew.
  • Milk and grated cheese to make a cheese sauce for nachos or over pasta for macaroni and cheese;
  • Milk, sugar, and vanilla and cook until thickened for a sweet sauce over bread pudding, strudel, or other desserts.

My daughter-in-law cannot have wheat, so I make the roux with rice flour when she is in town. The texture is slightly different but not bad. You also can skip the roux altogether and thicken with cornstarch for a clear sauce.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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