This is our fifth post, as my seven-year old daughter and I continue our journey to cook our way around the world.
Approximately once a week (yes, yes, it’s been awhile), Grace picks a country and we research the food of that nation and pick a traditional dish that we want to try. We shop and cook together, and maybe even work in a side trip to an ethnic market or food-truck, once in a while.
We post our processes, notes, and maybe a brief anecdote, but mostly it’s all about the recipes.
Last time, we visited The Philippines and cooked up some amazing Chicken Adobo.
Poutine is a common Canadian dish, originating in Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds, and can now be found across Canada.
It’s most often sold in small “greasy spoon” type diners and pubs, as well as by roadside fry wagons (commonly known as cabanes à patates, literally “potato shacks”).
The dish originated in rural Quebec, Canada, in the late 1950s. Montreal hosts a competitive Semaine de la Poutine (Poutine Week) every year in February. Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, and Quebec City similarly hold ‘La Poutine Week’.
Poutine is Acadian slang for mushy mess and is best described as a heart attack in a bowl. Disco Fries, also known as “Elvis Fries,” served in New Jersey and select New York City diners, are made with brown gravy, mozzarella, and heavier steak fries.
Traditional Canadian Poutine
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
20 oz. beef broth
10 oz. chicken broth
Pepper, to taste
2lbs traditional-cut frozen French fries
1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese curds
Fresh ground black pepper
This is the most traditional “Canadian Poutine Gravy” recipe I’ve found. The combination of chicken and beef broth creates the unique flavor I remember from up north! Some versions use a 100% chicken gravy, which I really want to try! I think this will make a great side dish to my dad’s Southern Fried Chicken (and maybe a small dish of lipitor, lol)
Cheese curds are fresh, young cheddar cheese in the natural, random shape and form before being processed into blocks and aged. (Cheddar cheese is typically aged from 60 days to 4 years before being sold.) and are little known in locations without cheese factories because they should ideally be eaten within hours of manufacture.
Their flavor is mild, with about the same firmness as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic due to air trapped inside the porous material. This “squeak” has been described by the New York Times as sounding like “balloons trying to neck”.
Unlike the aged variety, curds lose their desirable qualities if refrigerated or not eaten for a few days (the squeak disappears and they turn dry and salty).
Feeling adventurous? Wanna make your own? Check out this post!
Okay, back to the recipe…
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns golden brown.
Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds.
Add the beef and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
Season with pepper. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, to taste.
Make ahead and re-warm or keep warm until your fries are ready.
Bake fries according to package directions (yes, you can make your own homemade fries, and yes…it’ll almost assuredly taste better.)
When fries are just golden brown, remove from the oven, sprinkle with cheese curds, and return to oven for 3-5 minutes until curds have softened.
FYI – that it’s really a traditional step, but I like the cheese a little more gooey.
Remove fries/curds from the oven, top generously with gravy, sprinkle with pepper, and serve immediately.
THE EASY & EVEN EASIER VERSION:
If you want to skip the homemade gravy (just promise me you’ll try it from scratch sometime), mix equal parts KFC gravy with low-sodium chicken stock and reduce by half at a low simmer.
If you’re REALLY in a hurry, Wendy’s new version of their fries would work well, too.
Be sure to serve it with a nice tossed salad (then you can at least pretend it’s healthy…lol!)