Fries, Gravy and What?
As Canadians, we enjoy our food heritage as much as any culture, and while our tastes may be more subdued, we are making a name for our country in the world of gastronomy. But French fries, you say? Stay with me; the surprise is worth the wait.
Poutine is a favorite French Canadian dish that can either be eaten as a satisfying snack, a side dish or as a meal. Of course, using fresh from scratch is always best. This dish came about in the Province of Quebec during the 1950s. Once famous chefs started to improvise with the original version, it became a classic across the country. It's as ethnic as grits and gravy are to Americans and has become a classic dish that is rooted in our cultural heritage. Many variations are listed on the menu across the country. There are several festivals associated with Poutine, reaching from Quebec City to Montreal, to Toronto, and even encompasses Chicago. Poutine, pronounced poo-teen, tastes delicious when served piping hot.
An easy recipe for Poutine
vegetable oil for frying, use skillet or deep fryer
1 can of beef or chicken gravy* or in a pinch a gravy pouch mixture
Cut 5 medium potatoes into fries (medium thickness) by hand or machine
2 cups cheese curds* (try Walmart for Costco) in a pinch use compatible cheese found in your fridge like shredded mozzarella or cheddar (at room temperature before serving)
Salt and pepper
Prepare the deep fryer, using the manufacturer oil guide, (roughly 4 cups) or in the skillet at least 2 inches of oil, may need to make several batches. Heat oil until it reaches 365 F.
As the oil warms, prepare the can or package gravy and set it to warm on the stove, stirring as needed.
Once the oil reaches temperature, place fries in hot oil and cook until lightly brown or about 5 minutes depending on fry thickness, repeat with remaining potato, set cooked fries on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
Once all fries are cooked*, place on serving dish, sprinkle liberally with cheese curds and ladle hot gravy generously covering fries and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, serve while hot.
A simple gravy recipe:
* 2 tbs water
* 2 tbs cornstarch
* 6 tbs butter
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, or gluten-free choice like a brown rice flour
* 2 cloves garlic finely minced
* 2 1/2 cups ounces beef broth
* 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
* 1/4 - 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Stir water and cornstarch together, put aside. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Slowly add flour and whisk to combine. Cook the roux mixture, for about 5 minutes, until it turns golden brown, stirring as needed. Now add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, until garlic becomes fragrant.
Pour both broths into the pan and bring to a boil. Whisk or stir in the cornstarch mixture, reduce the heat and let simmer until sauce is a thick consistency or about 5 minutes—season with salt and ground pepper to taste.
*Some prefer their fries double-cooked: this ensures a crisp outside and softer insider. The freshest cheese curds make the best Poutine.
Play with variations and use sweet potato fries, add smoked meat (Montreal smoked meat), or shredded beef or pork. For seafood lovers, there is such a thing as lobster poutine. It's a great way to utilize leftover roast dishes and gravies for a truly unique taste.
Poutine was served as part of the menu during the first state dinner in the White House hosted by President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held in March of 2016.
If it's good enough for them, then well, let's eat Poutine.
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