WTF is a Roux?

I was raised by very country women, but not necessarily ‘southern’ women and as I advanced further into my cooking years I learned that there is a huge difference between a country cook and a southern cook. Notably, when I moved to Virginia, one thing I had never heard of was ‘roux’. And as such, I caught myself thinking “WTF is a roux?” (Hence the title.) And what’s all the hype about making a good roux?

Growing up/in my neck of the woods we called it ‘simple gravy’ and essentially it’s a fattening-ass mixture of butter or grease and flour and you brown it up on the stove top. But, many southern cooks use this simple gravy mixture as a base for many other dishes. And there is truly an art form to making different varieties of roux and making a good, proper roux is a source of pride to a good southern cook. Seriously.

Traditionally, a roux is made by slowly browning together a fat (most commonly butter) and flour in a thick bottomed pan at a low to medium temperature. The temperature of your pan, the type of fat used, the type of flour used, and the length of cook time are all important factors depending on the type of roux you need to make. Accordingly, depending on the type of dish, the recipe for the roux changes.

For better understanding, here are some very helpful links/examples of the need for different types of roux.

General info on the 4 basic types of roux and the history behind roux:
http://allrecipes.com/howto/all-about-roux/

Here are some links to more specific recipes:

For gumbos:
The very basic gumbo roux…
http://www.food.com/recipe/gumbo-base-aka-roux-47651

(And BTW , I do not necessarily agree with #5 on this list in the above link. In my opinion you can usually always fix something that’s only a ‘little bit’ burned. In the instance of a simple gumbo roux, you would fix it by adding additional butter/grease, and flour, or perhaps a cornstarch mixture, along with whatever basic seasonings were originally used to make up the base flavor (if any). Or, you could add a little stock or bouillon, plus equal parts of flour and voila – fixed!! And no one knows the damn difference!)

For understanding more complex gumbo roux…
http://www.southernfoodways.org/interview/how-to-make-a-roux/

For beef steaks:
http://www.food.com/recipe/beef-gravy-187128

(Side note: You will notice in some of these links that the first step of a dish is to make the roux, but I feel it important to note that roux is not always necessarily the first thing you make. Often times, a roux is made after the main part of your dish is prepared and set aside. For instance, when I am making hamburger steaks, as similar to the above article, I use the fat that has been rendered in the pan while it is still in it’s liquid form to begin my simple gravy/roux instead of butter as suggested in #1.)

For macaroni and pasta dishes:
http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/11679/homemade-mac-and-cheese/?internalSource=staff%20pick&referringId=509&referringContentType=recipe%20hub&referringPosition=4

For chowders:
http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/25683/new-england-clam-chowder-iii/

(This first step in this link applies to all chowders, not just NECC, but chicken corn chowder and so on.)

And so, in summary, and to respond to the question at topic, ‘WTF is a roux?’ Well folks, my answer is that a roux is a fattening-ass southern cook’s simple gravy and apparently you can make it a bunch of different ways. Lol. And if you do it right, you should give yourself a pat on the back. So there ya have it people. 🙂

Happy cooking!

Creamy Enchiladas with Homemade Mexican Red Sauce

Creamy Enchiladas with Homemade Mexican Red Sauce

Start with the red sauce, just to get it done and out of the way.

You will need:

1 small can of tomato paste

1 tsp of ground cumin

3/4 c. of water

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper

1 cube of beef bouillon

In a small sauce pan bring the water to a boil. On a cutting board, with the flat side of a broad knife, carefully smash the bouillon cube, scrape it off the board with your knife right into the boiling water. Now scrape in the tomato paste. Wisk it well until completely blended. Then add the salt, pepper and cumin. Wisk well again. Make sure it gets good and hot. Then remove and set aside. If you want a spicy red sauce, then add a shake or two from the cayenne pepper bottle. That’ll do the trick.

For the cream sauce, here’s the link I used…be sure to double the recipe here:

Basic Cream Sauce

Now keep in mind that this dish is a Mexican-based dish. So, instead of using Italian seasoning as she suggests, I added a little Cholula, a wee bit of chili powder, garlic powder and cheese…like, I so cheated and melted some Velveeta queso blanco at the end and wisked it in…DAMN IT WAS GOOOOOOOD THOUGH! Once this is done, set aside.

For the enchiladas you will need:

1 bag of medium or large tortillas

1 1/2 lbs of ground beef

1 small onion, diced

1/2 of a red or green bell pepper, diced

1 can of Rotel, mild

1 tsp of powdered garlic

2 Tbsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of sea salt

1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper

1 small bag of finely shredded cheddar cheese

1 small container of sour cream

In a skillet, brown your hamburger meat, breaking it down into crumbles as it cooks. Once fully cooked, drain with a colander. In the same skillet, dump in your onions, bell pepper and Rotel. Let that brown up a bit. Then pour the hamburger meat back into the skillet. Now add your seasonings. Mix well. Let cook for just a few minutes and set aside.

Set the oven to 400. Get out a 13×9″ baking dish. Ceramic, metal, glass, doesn’t matter. Coat it with a hefty layer of butter. All over the sides and the bottom.

Open your bag of tortillas. Take one tortilla in your hand and add one heaping scoop of hamburger mixture right into the center, like if you were making yourself a soft taco. Then take a nice little handful of cheese and sprinkle that over the meat and take a heaping spoonful of the sour cream and drop it right on top. Now you’ll need to fold it up. Lay your tortilla on the counter. Fold the right side in about 1.5 in. And then the left side. Then, take the top flap and pull it down toward you completely over the meat. Then fold the bottom side up. Try to tuck it tight and make sure all the ends stay folded as best you can. Turn it over so the seam side is down and place at one end of the baking dish. Repeat this until you’ve taken up every square inch of that dish. This includes tucking some additional enchiladas along the top or bottom.

Now. Pour your creamy white sauce (SLOWLY- no splattering here…) down over the enchiladas. All of them. Try to coat all as best you can. (You should have a bit left over, which you’ll use to plate the dish later.)

Then pop that baby in the oven. Let it bake for about 10 minutes. Checking on it frequently to ensure it does not get too brown on top. If it DOES start to brown a bit, then whip out a length of aluminum foil and cover it. Be careful you don’t burn yourself when tucking the aluminum around the sides of the dish.

Once the cream sauce begins to bubble around the enchiladas, its done. At this point (and this is optional…and if you have aluminum foil on it, then you’ll need to remove it now) I usually sprinkle a whole bunch of cheese on top of the enchiladas, crank the oven up to Broil and set the dish back inside the oven for NO MORE THAN 2 MINUTES OR YOU’LL BURN THE SHIT OUT OF IT. Set a timer if you need to. Keep an eye on it! As soon as the cheese begins to brown, you’re done. Pull it out.  And using a softer/longer spatula (I have a pancake flipper that works friggin’ great for this) press down between the enchiladas, loosening them. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes. (You just don’t want the cheese to glue everything together.)

Once cool enough (using the same soft/long spatula) pull out one of the enchiladas and put it dead center on the plate. Pour some of the left over cream sauce down over it. Then add a stripe of the red sauce on top of it. Garnish with some sliced green onions if you wish. It gives it a nice pop on the plate and adds the right accent flavor. OR, perhaps some cilantro would be good too. YUMMMY!!

ENJOY!

Potty Training Baby Bandits

A couple of days ago, my husband let me sleep in one morning. Glorious right? Mmm…not so much… as shortly after I woke, I discovered this cute little game my boys like to play (when daddy’s not paying attention) called:

“How Much Random Shit From Around the House Can We Fit Into the Toilet?”

(And let me just stop you all right there. Yes, I baby-proof EVERYTHING. No, it does not work…those little terds get into everything that has a lock on it.) But, to answer the question of this game, the following list is apparently what you can fit in a toilet, (just in case you are curious):

1. A roll of toilet paper
2. A bottle of lotion
3. A Yankee candle
4. A miniature soccer ball
5. A bookend
6. A serving spoon
7. A small/table-top decorative topiary
8. A toy train
9. 2 bananas
10. A flip flop
11. And a box of tissues

…I will never sleep in again. Thank God for bleach & Lysol.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It’s 2 layers. The bottom is golden vanilla that was topped with cream cheese/crushed pineapple icing and then topped with the actual pineapple upside down cake. The sides are coated with the same cream cheese/crushed pineapple icing and finished with finely shredded organic coconut. This is not the kind of cake I typically do. And I can say for the first time in a long time, I was nervous. BUT, I got nothin’ but high praise on this big guy. (Whoop! Whoop!)

Here’s the recipe link:

http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/03/the-best-pineapple-upside-down-cake.html

Now, a couple of notes I will make are that, 1) You’ll want to line your pan with parchment paper or wax paper, 2) be sure to grease the pan with sweet cream stick butter and an even coat of brown sugar. After that, the recipe link picks up from this point…

Enjoy!!