Even after fifty years in Canada, I am completely satisfied with a bowl of fresh vegetable stew. But this was a problem in 1967. I knew that főzelék or vegetable stew required rántás [roux] or habarás [slurry] to thicken so I wrote home for help. The turn around for mail those days could be three to four weeks, and in the meantime I kept on making "wallpaper paste". My roux sometimes was so thick the spoon stood up in the pot. Lumpy too. Roughly a month passed before I began to receive instructions how to make roux. It would begin with “put some lard in the pot, add some flour...” It never entered their minds to write down the steps for me. I soon realized I could not rely on my family for cooking. The struggle with roux continued and I was making less and less főzelék as the years went by. You might say I was roux challenged. No matter what I did, my roux was always lumpy, either too thick or it simply failed to thicken the vegetable stew. Often times I had the painstaking task of forcing it through a sieve, then it would lump up again in the hot broth. If you share my bewilderment with roux... this one is for you.
2 Tbsp flour
- Begin by heating 2 tablespoons oil or fat in a saucepan over medium heat until a pinch of flour sprinkled in the oil begins to bubble.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour to form a paste.
- Continue stirring as the roux gently bubbles for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not cook longer.
- Remove from heat and stir in the seasoning such as paprika or chopped up herbs if desired. Do not cook the roux with the seasoning or it will turn bitter.
- Add 1/2 of a cup of cold liquid: water, stock, or the cooled down broth from the stew.
- Stir smooth. You now have roux.
- Add the roux to the slowly simmering stew and continue to slow simmer until the desired consistency. Do not cook it longer than 2-3 minutes, because continued cooking will eventually break down the flour and the liquid will be thin again.
- This amount is sufficient to thicken 2 cups of liquid.
2 Tbsp flour or cornstarch
1 cup cold liquid
- Add the flour or cornstarch to a small bowl and gradually stir in the cold liquid.
- Stir until a smooth. This is the slurry.
- Whisk the cold slurry into the hot, simmering liquid you want to thicken.
- Bring it back to simmer and continue in a slow simmer for 2-3 minutes or
until the starchy taste is cooked away. Don't cook longer or the starch
will break down and the liquid will be thin again. This will thicken 2 cups of hot broth. Slurry