A few years ago, back when my husband and I lived in downtown Vancouver, one of our favourite Sunday afternoon outings involved catching an early matinee and heading to our favourite downtown diner for a late lunch. More often then not, we’d order ourselves a couple of drinks and a heaping plate of their delectable Mushroom Poutine. Three children and one move to a small town later, we now rent our weekend matinee movies and snuggle up on our couch with our own homemade version of Canada’s favourite comfort food. Originally from rural Quebec, poutine’s combination of fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds has been freshened up in this diner-inspired family favourite.
Preparation for Vegetarian Poutine is minimal. First, you will need a package of your favourite frozen fries. Following the package cooking directions, get your fries into the oven to bake while you make the mushroom gravy.
For the mushroom gravy you will need:
1 pound of coarsely chopped fresh white mushrooms,
3 crushed garlic cloves,
2 tablespoons of butter,
1 finely chopped small onion,
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (preferably mushroom)
In a large non-stick skillet melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onion and garlic, stir until softened and garlic becomes a light golden colour. Add mushrooms and soy sauce, sautéing mixture over moderately high heat. Keep stirring until mushrooms stop sweating and begin to brown.
Stir half a cup of the vegetable stock and the cornstarch into skillet, once blended add the remaining vegetable stock. Stir until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat. Keep stirring and simmer the gravy for 2 minutes to thicken. Season gravy with salt and pepper, and any other spices you may feel it needs. The mushroom gravy can be made ahead of time and stored covered in the fridge.
Still hot from the oven, lay cooked fries on a platter or a large plate and pour on a generous amount of mushroom gravy. Sprinkle on as many cheese curds as you like allowing them to melt into the warm gravy and hot fries. For many, finding cheese curds will be the hardest part of making poutine. For those who can’t find cheese curds locally, substitute a grated mild white cheese like mozzarella. The ultimate Canadian comfort food, few things can satisfy and comfort like a warm plate of poutine.