Cajun Napalm: Making a Roux
I needed a roux for my etouffee on Fat Tuesday. I hunted around a few creole and cajun cooking sites, and got the basics. Equal parts flour and fat (well almost-some folks prefer a hair more flour.) The rest is up to the chef, how long to cook, over what temperature, etc. I wasn't about to attempt the 8 minute black roux, instead going to a low-medium cooking. I'd rather take it slow the first few times. I opted for a red roux, cooking mine until it was a brick color.
The darker roux really gave the etoufee a depth of flavor. Also, I made the roux in an enamel covered cast iron pot, and found this provided a nice light colored background that to enable me to see how it was changing color.
1/4 cup Peanut Oil
1/4 cup Flour
The key to a good roux is stirring. You literally have to stir the entire time the heat is on it. There is no recovering from a burnt roux, you'll have to toss it out and start over. The only way to prevent it burning it to stir constantly to keep anything from setting on the bottom of the pan. This is also why it's important to use a heavy pot that distributes heat evenly, so you don't get hot spots.
Place pot over low heat and add oil and flour. Stir until both are combined. Then keep stirring, making sure nothing is sticking the the pot. A flat ended wooden spoon is ideal for this. This is the roux color when I first started.
Increase heat to medium low. Keep stirring. After about five minutes, increase heat to medium, but know your stove, be careful not to get it too hot. It's better for a roux to take a little longer at lower heat than to burn at higher heat.
From my experience, the roux will only slightly darken during the first 15 minutes. It will go from white to vanilla to sand to peanut butter. Then changes are very slight for the first 15 minutes. This is the color change after 15 minutes. Only slightly more yellow - but getting to the blonde color or "peanut butter."
I found that it starts to darken quickly in the last five minutes. Mine took a little longer than 20 minutes. I have to admit I stopped when it was a brick color for fear of burning it and having to start over. It will continue to cook after you remove from heat, so that has to be taken into account. This is the color of the roux that I took off the heat at the 21 minute mark.
A word of caution: They don't call it cajun napalm for nothing. If it gets on you, you're getting burned. You can't get a towel or wipe it off fast enough. That being said, Enjoy!