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A roux of gold

A roux is a cooking technique used to thicken sauces, stews, and soups. It is made by cooking equal parts flour and fat (traditionally butter, but oil can also be used) together in a saucepan or skillet until it reaches a desired color and consistency. A roux can range in color from white to dark brown, with a darker color resulting in a more intense flavor. The word "roux" comes from the French word for "red," as the flour and fat mixture can take on a reddish hue when cooked. To make a roux, start by melting the fat in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is fully melted, add an equal amount of flour to the pan and stir it together to create a smooth paste. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, until it reaches the desired color. For a white roux, cook it for just a minute or two until the raw flour flavor is cooked out. For a blond roux, cook it for a few minutes until it turns a light golden color. For a brown roux, cook it for longer, up to 20 minutes, until it reaches a deep brown color. Once the roux is cooked and the desired color is achieved, it can be used to thicken a variety of dishes. For a thick gravy or sauce, continue to cook the roux for a few more minutes to activate the thickening properties of the flour. Then, slowly whisk in hot liquid (such as broth or milk) until the desired consistency is reached. For a thinner sauce or soup, add the liquid to the roux and whisk together until combined. A roux adds both flavor and texture to a dish, and can also be used as a base for other flavors. For example, herbs, spices, and other seasonings can be added to the roux before the liquid is added, infusing the entire dish with their flavors. A roux can also be used as a base for a creamy sauce, such as a béchamel or cheese sauce. Whether it's a simple white roux for a classic mac and cheese, or a dark brown roux for a rich gumbo, this versatile cooking technique adds depth and flavor to many dishes.