Cajun Roux

One Saturday morning 25 years ago, I stumbled on a TV show called Louisiana Cookin' just as the host, Justin Wilson, was proclaiming that he was going to make a roux for a gumbo. In my world, roux was flour and butter that you stirred in the skillet for a few seconds to thicken a sauce. What was the big deal about that? Wilson combined lard and flour in a stockpot and cooked the roux slowly, stirring constantly for a very long time. As he did so, he said, "If you see black specks in de roux, throw it out and start over. It burned." It wasn't until the roux was a dark chestnut color that Wilson removed it from the fire and dumped in the rest of his gumbo ingredients. Years later, I learned that, in Louisiana, the method for making roux is handed down as an heirloom. Each family prides itself on creating traditional foods, from gumbo to ** etouffee**, with its own, time-tested roux. It's the backbone of flavor for their cooking. Now it's part of mine. —James Morgan, Scottsdale, Arizona



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