Learn to cook like a Cajun and develop your own style with help from south Louisiana cook and humorist, Jacques Gaspard, who's been cooking great Cajun foods for nearly 50 years. Learn how to prepare the best gumbos, seafood, jambalaya, stews, salads and deserts – the way they were originally prepared – pure and simple. Besides great original recipes you will discover a hodgepodge of stories, recordings, music, videos and humorous anecdotes to entertain. So enjoy! ... Ahheee!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Easy Microwave Gumbo Roux | No Oil. No Fuss. No Mess.

This is a written version of the previous post, Easy Microwave Gumbo Roux (video), with annotations.

The 4,3,2,1, plus formula used in my video demonstration was for a 700-watt oven. You may want to adjust the minutes in this formula to fit your particular circumstances, especially if you are going to use a more powerful microwave oven. In other words, you may want to begin your cooking cycles with 3 minutes, or perhaps 2 minutes, then move on to the 1 minute cycles until the desired color is reached. There were times when a more powerful oven compelled me to reduce the ending cooking cycles to 30 seconds rather than 1 minute ... to prevent burning.

Remember that the color of the roux does not correctly reflect the color of the gumbo until it is dissolved in water and mixed well. Then it will appear several shades darker.

Here are a few advantages of preparing powdered gumbo roux over the traditional method:

  • No need for oil.
  • No stove-top oven.
  • Less likely to burn.
  • Saves time & money.
  • Versatile applications.
Obviously there is no need for oil to make my powdered roux. As long as you press-out all the flour lumps (which begin to accumulate during the first few minutes of cooking), and as long as you scrape the bowl, mix the flour thoroughly and return it to a powdery state within a minute of the next cooking cycle, you'll do just fine.

You can make powdered roux without a conventional stove-top oven. This means you can process your roux in an RV while camping ... or on a road trip ... or anywhere there happens to be a microwave oven for that matter. I always have a couple coffee cans full of powdered gumbo roux handy. It stores well and doesn't need refrigeration. There's no oil so there's no chance of it becoming rancid.

Unlike preparing the oil-based roux, if you make a mistake using my formula and burn it, it will usually be a small lump or two which you may not have pressed-out well enough. If this happens use a spoon to take out the burning lump or lumps and discard them in the sink or in cool water. You do not have to throw out the whole bowl of flour as you would with an oil-based roux.

Caution: Do not press-out any burning lumps in the bowl with the rest of the flour or you will have to throw out the entire mixture.

The microwave method saves you time and money because to make the powdered roux does not require specialized cooking materials and is surprisingly simple to make.

Finally, the powdered roux gives you more versatility when it comes to cooking and preparing other meals besides gumbos. You can use it for gravies, fricassees, piquantes, etouffees, stews and sauces.

We die-hard Cajuns love to make roux the old fashion way when we can ... along with our favorite oils like Mazola Canola, cottonseed, or peanut. And, the crowning moment with making gumbo roux the old fashion way is when it comes time to add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the mix while it is still sizzling hot. The magnificent aroma which it produces is truly out of this world.

But, there are occasions when time or circumstances will not allow us to prepare our favorite gumbo roux the traditional way, or we may not have the right equipment on hand, like a heavy cast-iron skillet or pot, to complete the job.

So, I am going to reveal to you my secret -- a way to prepare world-class powdered gumbo roux right from your microwave oven in less than 30 minutes using only a few simple utensils and 2-cups of all-purpose flour (enough to produce a gumbo which will feed a half-dozen, or more, hungry eaters). You will need to set aside about one-half hour of time to prepare your roux without interruptions, because once you get started you do not want to lose the heat you will have built-up.

Please keep children and infants away from you while preparing your powdered roux because the bowl and the flour will get VERY HOT before you are finished. Now, let's get started.

You Will Need:
  1. A non-plastic microwavable vessel (3-cup capacity).
  2. 2-cups of all-purpose flour.
  3. Oven mitts and heat absorption pad.
  4. A sturdy metal fork for scrapping and mixing.
  5. A small container of water to test the color of your roux.
Instructions:

On the high setting begin by first cooking the 2-cups of flour for 4 minutes, according to the formula, then remove the bowl from your oven and scrape all sides with the metal fork. Press-out all the lumps and mix well. Level-off the bowl of flour and return it to your oven within a minute of the next cooking cycle -- which will be the second step of our cooking-time formula (3 minutes).

Repeat this process through each stage of the formula (4, 3, 2, 1, plus) until you have reached the desired results.

Note: You can control the heat better by using transparent vessels or bowls rather than white or lightly-colored ones which retain more heat and cook faster. In my personal experiences I've noticed that they have more of a tendency to burn the flour. So, when I do use a white bowl I have to keep a closer eye on what I am doing and sometimes adjust my ending formula to 30 second cycles.

When you believe you have reached the desired color (chocolaty), test it by dissolving a small amount in a bowl or glass of water to make sure. If you like the color it produces then set the hot roux aside in a safe place to cool down. If the color is not dark enough for your taste simply cook it for another minute or two until you have reached perfection. It's as simple as that.

Once you have learned the process of cooking roux in the microwave oven, you may never want to go back to the old-fashioned way of preparing it again. Over the last decade I've made hundreds of gallons of gumbo this way. I don't remember receiving even one complaint about the taste.

Remember, when making gumbo you should know that the roux (whether powdered or oil-based) needs to cook a long time on low to medium-heat so as not to impart a slightly-bitter taste to your meal. The roux has to have enough time to absorb all the flavors of your vegetables and meat stock. Hope this helps.

Enjoy! ... and take care not to burn yourself, okay? From the Gumbo Gu-roux ... Ahheee!!

P.S. For the traditional stove-top method of making roux follow this link: Stove-top Gumbo Roux Signature Icon

2 comments:

  1. Hello,
    Just came across this recipe/site because my husband and I are looking for a good catfish gumbo recipe for our little "drive-thru" shop in TN. It appears that authentic gumbo is made with a "roux" and was grateful to find an "easy" way to make it! I am wondering, though, can this roux be made in quantity, also, can anyone offer any helpful hints and/or favorite recipes for catfish gumbo? Looking forward to hearing from someone and thank you in advance!
    Sincerely,
    Denise Rogers
    barakel@twlakes.net

    ReplyDelete
  2. First of all, thank you for visiting our site and do come back. Please tell your friends about us. You can also tell them if they want 'authentic' Cajun-style recipes Real Cajun Cooking - Pure and Simple is the right place to be.

    To answer your first question, "can this roux be made in quantities?" The answer is yes. I have experimented with up to 4 cups at one time. A little more care and attention will be needed, tho, if you attempt to make any more than that in a microwave oven because of the extreme heat which is required to get the desired results.

    In other words, you should probably look for a cooking vessel that can withstand a lot of heat because the more all-purpose flour that you use, the more sustained heat will be required.

    I find it easier to make my roux in smaller quantities, like 2 cups at the time, and repeat the process as needed. It takes about half the time to make the powdered roux in the microwave oven than the old-fashioned kind using flour and oil and my stove-top.

    May I suggest that you assess the needs of your customers for a few days, keep a log, and soon you will know how much roux to prepare in advance. The practical thing about using powdered roux is the long shelf-life, unlike the oil-based roux which can turn rancid.

    Your second question is one that several folks have asked me over the years concerning 'catfish gumbo'. I know that there are the creative sorts out there who think they can throw a bunch of stuff together in colored water and call it a 'Cajun' gumbo. But, it's not authentic ... pure and simple.

    Most of the time, when someone mentions 'fish gumbo', what they are probably referring to is 'fish courtbouillon' which is a slightly thick and spicy tomato-based soup with a small amount of medium-based roux, the trinity vegetables (onions, bell pepper and celery), along with a few other choice herbs and spices which gives it a unique taste.

    I have a great 'fish courtbouillon' recipe that you can look at and examine (see recipe index). Maybe you can use it to come up with some cool ideas on your own for your menu. You can also substitute the powdered roux, (about 4 Tbs) which is a lot simpler than the old-fashioned roux cited in the recipe.

    Thanks so much for your comments. If I can answer any more questions please contact me.

    Lots of luck to you and your husband on the drive-thru.

    God bless,

    Jacques

    ReplyDelete

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