Pan full of shrimp gumbo resting on wooden board

In a sentence, Roux is a thickening agent that’s used in the “one-pot” method of Cajun cooking. But any person living along the Bayou will tell you that it's more than that. It is a part of their history, culture and lives.

The Cajuns inherited the roux from the French “Mother sauces” however, out of necessity and poverty the people of Louisiana weren’t able to use butter in their sauce, so they replaced it with vegetable oil. It is used as a thickener in many of Cajun cuisine’s “one-pot” dishes so that the meal can be made to feed more people.

Roux is intrinsic to the very nature of Cajun cooking. It is a simple enough idea, flour and oil, but it exalts a dish from a simple meal to an event. It makes a stew, born out of necessity, a family tradition.

Each and every household and restaurant up and down the Mississippi, from New Orleans to Lafayette, will have a different recipe. Contemporary chefs have even opted to use different animal fats, such as duck, to create cordon bleu variations of what began as a means to feed a whole family.

We would never assume to be the authority on this staple of Cajun cuisine, but we thought we would let you see for yourself the intricacies of such a simple ingredient. So we decided to show you a very quick guide to making your own Roux:

  1. You need equal amounts of flour and either fat, butter or oil.
  2. Heat the oil(or which ever you chose) in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Slowly sprinkle in the flour a little at a time, stirring constantly.
  4. You will notice the flour beginning to brown.
  5. For gumbo, when the roux reaches a deep dark chocolate brown color it is done.

Remember, stir constantly and don’t walk away. A burnt roux will make your food inedible. How long it takes to cook is quite a personal thing, every chef has their own standard

The scent of roux cooking lingers in your clothes, your hair and your heart. Just the smell of it gets a good Cajun’s mouth watering at the prospect of a generous bowl of Gumbo.