Culinary School Lesson: Roux The Day
In my “What I Learned in Culinary School” series, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that I learned from two years of working with some of the country’s best chefs. This will include big things like learning to work efficiently, and small things like how to cook bacon perfectly. All of them will be applicable to your home kitchen, making you a faster, better, and more confident cook.
On a particularly boring lecture day in school (these were few and far between, so I can’t complain), I tried to mentally add up how much butter my school went through each day. Between the pastry classes making homemade puff pastry, the baking classes and their biscuits, and the pats of butter being used to finish pan sauces in the student-run restaurant up front, I stopped counting at 300 pounds. My school went through over 300 pounds of butter each day.
A huge portion of this butter was used to create roux – a classic French combination of fat and flour, used as a thickener for soups, sauces and stews. It’s so important to classical culinary techniques that students are required to execute it properly before they are allowed to even apply to the culinary program. With Mardi Gras coming up (roux is frequently used as a thickener in Cajun and creole cuisine), it seemed like the perfect time to discuss what roux is, how to make it, and when to use it.
For more tips and tricks from my school days, be sure to check out my culinary school archive.