Roux the Day – all Day, any Day

There are certain combinations you would not expect to pop up in word associations:
Oatmeal and Indulgence
or
Comfort Food (like Bacon) and Fancy French Words (like Roux)
…Yet these very combination are the reason I’m still happily eating leftovers from my Sunday afternoon cooking extravaganza.
With only hours left in the weekend, I felt inspiration tingling as I made plans to head to the grocery store, and ended up making a whole meal entirely recipes I’d found in the far-reaches of the internet (aka Pintrest)…. Unlike many of my experiments in the kitchen, both dinner & dessert came out incredibly well & incredibly CHEAP! The cheapness, of course, was the second reason I loved it – bacon of course being the first reason.
I started by making oatmeal lemon creme bars from a recipe posted by Just Call Me Maria. While I definitely want to try making this from-scratch version sometime, the shortcut option (using condensed milk & Betty Crocker Oatmeal Cookie mix) was perfect, since I only had a little time to make it before pulling together dinner. The bars are so yummy – an instance of the whole being greater than its parts. Sadly, I was so enraptured by how great these tasted, I completely forgot to grab my camera – pictures to come when I make them again OR just go get the recipe and feast your eyes on Maria’s beautiful photos..
For dinner (and lunches at work throughout the week) I decided on Picky Palate’s Cheesy Chicken and Rice Skillet with Bacon. Seriously, how can you go wrong with Cheese & Bacon? Also, M & I had received a beautiful cast iron skillet for our wedding, and I’d been looking for recipes that truly appreciate just how great it is. (M is only slightly concerned that I have such attachment and respect for my cooking utensils – be on the lookout for a post on all my favorites). The dish came out wonderfully, and is just as fantastic the next day (and even the day after).
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The useful takeaway from this recipe was how to make a “roux” sauce. Roux is a fancy french word meaning a cooking mixture of flour and fat (most often butter) that is used as the thickening agent of a bunch of sauces such as béchamel, velouté, and espangole. Broth and loads of cheddar (I used a gourmet sharp blend) are added to the roux in Picky Palate’s rice skillet, resulting in a FANTASTIC cheese sauce. But be forewarned, there is a lot of whisking – not quite on the same level as making your own hollandaise sauce (my arms ached for 2 days after that) – but just enough to be a little frantic and worried that it could burn. So relieved was I that my roux DIDN’T burn, that i forgot to add in the hot sauce (oh well!), but it was still fantastic! M & I just add hot sauce on when we eat it, which actually works out great, since M has a much higher pain tolerance for heat (he’s a Memphis boy with a deep love of Tex-Mex). I bet this cheese roux would also make a killer Mac & Cheese.
Hope you go check out the recipes on Just Call Me Maria and Picky Palate and enjoy sharing them with someone you love!

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