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Every old cajun knows that before you do ANYTHING....you make a roux! A roux is the basic beginning for many cajun dishes. Making the roux probably scares more people away from cajun/creole cooking than any other thing. Don't be afraid! It isn't that hard. The method described below is the "quick" way.....and requires close attention. The old fashion way cooks the roux over a more moderate fire with constant stirring, and though it takes much longer, it is usually fool proof.

Use a black iron skillet or a heavy cast steel one. Pour 1 cup vegetable oil into the skillet and heat on high. Add about 1-1/2 cups of all purpose flour. The mixture should be thick.... almost a paste. (Do NOT use self rising flour.) Using a metal whisk, stir the mixture over high heat very quickly, covering ALL areas of the skillet. (Be VERY careful not to splash this on you....it is dangerously hot.) Continue to stir very quickly until the roux begins to turn to a brown color. As the mixture browns, gradually reduce the heat to make sure the roux does not burn. If the roux begins to smoke more than a little, gets black fleks in it, or smells like it is burning, remove the skillet from the fire immediately and continue whisking.

A roux for Gumbo should be about the color of lighter brown shoe leather. (The roux will continue to darken, turning DARK brown when you add the vegetables....see below.) Other dishes will require a lighter roux, so cook accordingly.

When the roux is the desired color...add chopped vegetables for the recipe you are using and reduce fire to low. This cools the roux. Continue to stir at first to prevent burning, then stir occasionally as needed. Cook until the vegetables are soft.