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Old 10-04-2006, 06:25 PM   #1
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Browning meat and roux color flavors

last night i made seafood gumbo for the first time. it came out real good but i had some questions. why do you brown chicken to add it to the gumbo. it all shreads up in the end. is it to give a better texture than unbrowned meat.
also can some one also explain the taste differance between a dark roux and a blond roux. i went with the dark roux and it had a very different taste that i have never had before. i realize you may not be able to, but i dont want to make a blond roux and find out later that i like dark. thanks.

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Old 10-04-2006, 06:37 PM   #2
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The browning is to add flavor. Browning meats causes a chemical reaction called the Maillard Reaction. That change adds a lot of flavor to a dish. Think about a grilled burger compared to boiled hamburg meat...

How long did you cook the chicken that it shredded?!

Roux flavor intensifies as it darkens. Sounds like you did a chicken and seafood gumbo. A dark roux (not a black roux) will add a lot of richness to this dish.

If you have the time, make a big batch of roux. Take a little out of the pan at different stages of color and do a comparative taste test after they have all cooled enough to preserve the integrity of your lips and tongue.
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:40 PM   #3
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Good questions eagle.

As far as the roux goes, the dark roux to me has a much nuttier taste than the blond version.

As for the chicken, I can think of a few reasons although I don't know how you use it in the gumbo.

Browning gives flavor to the meat. Both by the Maillarde (? spelling) reaction that will give the surface a tasty flavor, but also cooking the meat with a dry heat gives it a texture and flavor that is different than just boiled chicken, which is what I am assuming you would have. Again, I don't know your recipe.

Browning also gets rid of some of the fat.

Just a couple of ideas.
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:42 PM   #4
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i dont have a thick pot to cook in. so i cooked the gumbo for 45 minutes simmering time, then added the okra and simmered another 30 minutes. Then the shrimp about 8 minutes. The problem is it takes time to get it back to boiling, I am sure that is cooking time as well. Thanks with the roux. I think I'll stick with dark. What is a black roux? Isn't that burnt?
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:43 PM   #5
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Sorry Andy, was typing while you were posting.

Good point though, take some flour and oil (or butter) and make a roux and try it as it changes. A great way to learn for little price.
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:47 PM   #6
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As far as recipes go, I cant follow one for my life, I use it as a guideline. I am always adding more of some things and less of others and sometimes adding ingredients that are not called for. Oh well such is life.
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:48 PM   #7
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I've been hearing that when you cook butter at high temperatures like that its not good for you. I dont know what I am talking about but this is what I have heard.
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:53 PM   #8
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I havent seen your recipe, but Gumbo is traditionally cooked with chicken with its skin on. If you start out browning the chicken pieces, brown them with their skinside down which will protect the flesh, these will allow you to create the brown bits you seek and protect the meat itself (you may indeed remove the skins later on in the stewing process)... I gather that you may have been putting the chicken flesh directly on the pan and lean cuts such as breast meat will begin shredding rapidly.

Gumbo is always cooked starting with a brown roux... it should be cooked with oil (veg or canola) for a long time over low heat and stirring making sure it doesnt burn... should be as dark as peanut butter w a similar consistency. This flavor is much different than blonde roux and its complexity is required in making gumbo. Different cooks will differ in how dark the roux should be. Do remember however that a dark roux will have less thickening power as a white or blonde roux and you must therefore use more of it. An etouffee is a similar dish which traditionally uses a lighter, blonde roux.

EDIT: I have now seen several authentic recipes which call for the chicken skin to be taken off... i would still proceed as above, begin sauteeing with skin on to produce your brown bits, then remove the skin and discard, and use the brown bits at the bottom for flavor base and even take advantage of the chicken fat rendered to begin using as your oil for the roux
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:57 PM   #9
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i had thought that the ocra would thicken it so i didnt add extra roux or file.
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Old 10-04-2006, 07:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eaglelox
i dont have a thick pot to cook in. so i cooked the gumbo for 45 minutes simmering time, then added the okra and simmered another 30 minutes. Then the shrimp about 8 minutes. The problem is it takes time to get it back to boiling, I am sure that is cooking time as well. Thanks with the roux. I think I'll stick with dark. What is a black roux? Isn't that burnt?
You can overlap your cooking times a little. If the chicken is simmering for 45 minutes, it's done. Add the okra for the last 30 minutes of the original 45 minutes. The shrimp doesn't need 8 minutes. Add it in for the last 3-4 minutes of the okra time.

Black roux isn't burned. It's just short of it though.
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Old 10-04-2006, 08:02 PM   #11
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I make a chicken/andouille gumbo based on the methods Paul Prudhome outlines in his famous book- Louisiana Cooking. I love it.
He calls for a roux that is very dark...darker than peanut butter- almost as dark as chocolate. If you want to learn about roux- find that book! Color pictures etc....

I actually substitute skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes... I brown them after coating with spiced flour. The browning actually stays on the chicken throughout the process, but enough falls off to add flavor and texture to the gumbo.
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Old 10-04-2006, 08:07 PM   #12
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A gumbo is supposed to have a dark roux, and indeed, it does have a distinct flavour. That's a great part of the appeal of gumbo. A blonde roux is one that is considered 'done' without ever browning it.

Browned chicken will have a nicer flavour than chicken that you simply baked in a covered pan. Personally, I only use butter for my dark roux, never the chicken fat, but that is just my preference.

If you liked your gumbo, then I'd say you did it just fine. Did you save me any?
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Old 10-04-2006, 08:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eaglelox
I've been hearing that when you cook butter at high temperatures like that its not good for you. I dont know what I am talking about but this is what I have heard.
Any time an oil smokes, unhealthy things are happening in the fat.

You can make roux with most any fat.

Butter would be a bad choice for a dark roux because it has milk solids that will burn long before the roux got very dark. Clarified butter should work if you're so inclined..

For a dark roux use a high smoke point oil for best results. I've used schmalz from the chicken thigh browning. It works, but it's a bit fussy as it's smoke point isn't as high. So any time there was even a hint of smoke, take the pan off the heat keep stirring and let it cool a bit. Then back on the heat.

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Old 10-05-2006, 08:24 AM   #14
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thank you everyone.
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Old 10-05-2006, 08:46 AM   #15
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The roux in gumbo is for flavor not thickening. When roux is cooked for that length of time, it loses its thickening properties and becomes a flavoring agent.
A good way to make roux is in the oven. Not so much chance to burn it. It can be made in large batches and frozen.
As for cooking butter at high temps, I have never heard of any problems with that except burining it.
To get to the thickening properties of okra, it needs to be cooked for quite a long time. I just made a gumbo base last night also. I simmered the base for probably hours.
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Old 10-05-2006, 09:14 AM   #16
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yea thats funny. i spent a whole day just making the shrimp, chicken stock. prior to this i had never cooked so long and still had nothing ready to eat.
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Old 10-05-2006, 12:08 PM   #17
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I was taught to use cooking oil to make my roux, and to get it to a chocolate color.
I have never browned the chicken though...I always poach it in a good amount of water, so I can used the broth for the liquid in my gumbo. I can see where that would add another element of flavor, but do you really need it when you have the lovely brown roux?
It's been interesting to see all the different methods you all use. I imagine the butter does add a certain richness of flavor to the roux.

I've noticed that some of you all add the roux to the liquid, rather than adding the liquid to the roux. I've always been a "do it all in one pot" person, so I've never tried that, but I can see where it would have it's advantages.
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Old 10-11-2006, 12:00 PM   #18
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I lived in Lafayette, LA--the heart of Cajun Country---for 8 years-- and the basic rule of thumb there was chocolate brown roux (not peanut butter colored) for chicken and seafood gumbos and lighter colored roux for etouffes and shrimp creoles. When making a gumbo from scratch it's important to know that the roux IS the most important ingredient and that you are going to be tied to the stove for at least 30 minutes if making the chocolate colored----its worth every minute. I get an interesting magazine or listen to the TV and know that I will be stirring nearly nonstop. The important thing is not to let it burn-----that means I use either peanut oil or a combination of peanut oil and bacon grease-----the latter gives a wonderful flavor!!! An iron skillet or iron pot will make the job easier and less of a chance for the roux to burn. If possible try making your gumbo at least a day before serving so that all the flavors meld together. And yes, it is time consuming but worth every drop!! Once I get the roux to the color that I want I immediately dump all the chopped veggies in which will then help to cool down the gumbo---it's going to look yuck at this point but don't panic---stir the veggies for a few minutes and then add BOILING water--since I make enough to feed 8-10 people I then transfer the mess to a bigger pot and add more boiling water ----I also add boiling water to the emptied skillet to clean off the residual roux and add that to the big pot. Then I add the seasonings and simmer for about 30 minutes----lastly go in the seafood or chicken and sausage depending on what I'm making. At the very end I will add chopped green onions and correct the seasonings---adding okra is an individual preference---I don't like its slimey texture so I don't add it but my gumbo is thick enough without it. Good luck-----I know that it can be confusing for someone attempting their first gumbo but les bon temps roulet!! (let the good times roll). Good luck!!
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Old 10-15-2006, 03:10 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by expatgirl
I lived in Lafayette, LA--the heart of Cajun Country---for 8 years-- and the basic rule of thumb there was chocolate brown roux (not peanut butter colored) for chicken and seafood gumbos and lighter colored roux for etouffes and shrimp creoles. When making a gumbo from scratch it's important to know that the roux IS the most important ingredient and that you are going to be tied to the stove for at least 30 minutes if making the chocolate colored----its worth every minute. I get an interesting magazine or listen to the TV and know that I will be stirring nearly nonstop. The important thing is not to let it burn-----that means I use either peanut oil or a combination of peanut oil and bacon grease-----the latter gives a wonderful flavor!!! An iron skillet or iron pot will make the job easier and less of a chance for the roux to burn. If possible try making your gumbo at least a day before serving so that all the flavors meld together. And yes, it is time consuming but worth every drop!! Once I get the roux to the color that I want I immediately dump all the chopped veggies in which will then help to cool down the gumbo---it's going to look yuck at this point but don't panic---stir the veggies for a few minutes and then add BOILING water--since I make enough to feed 8-10 people I then transfer the mess to a bigger pot and add more boiling water ----I also add boiling water to the emptied skillet to clean off the residual roux and add that to the big pot. Then I add the seasonings and simmer for about 30 minutes----lastly go in the seafood or chicken and sausage depending on what I'm making. At the very end I will add chopped green onions and correct the seasonings---adding okra is an individual preference---I don't like its slimey texture so I don't add it but my gumbo is thick enough without it. Good luck-----I know that it can be confusing for someone attempting their first gumbo but les bon temps roulet!! (let the good times roll). Good luck!!
i went to school in lafayette, louisiana and lived there for over 10 yrs... the food there is absolutely awesome.

as for roux... my Dad recommends vegetable oil, but my Mom says, "bacon grease only." i make a dark roux when i have time, but most of the time, i just used store-bought roux... richard's, savoie's, or my favorite, kary's; they are all good though.

and as mentioned before... if you want gumbo for the sunday football game, you need to cook it on saturday-allowing those flavors to marry-up overnight.
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Old 10-16-2006, 12:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by black chef
i went to school in lafayette, louisiana and lived there for over 10 yrs... the food there is absolutely awesome.

as for roux... my Dad recommends vegetable oil, but my Mom says, "bacon grease only." i make a dark roux when i have time, but most of the time, i just used store-bought roux... richard's, savoie's, or my favorite, kary's; they are all good though.

and as mentioned before... if you want gumbo for the sunday football game, you need to cook it on saturday-allowing those flavors to marry-up overnight.
Dear black chef,

Out of curiosity where did you go to school? I taught at Andrus Elementary and took a few grad courses at USL (University of Southern Louisiana). And I totally agree with your Mom--if you have to stick to one gumbo oil, bacon is the best. I reserve the store bought when I feel like I have to add more for flavor or extra people are showing up and don't have enough on hand. Are you still living in Layayette?? I absolutely miss that place and will always have fond memories of it. Thanks for posting.
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