OK you’re asking what the hell is Poutine. Unless you’re from Canada, then you’re saying rock on! I’m with you. I didn’t know what Poutine was for a really long time. Isn’t he the Prime Minister of Russia? No, it’s really cheese fries with gravy, sort of. It’s a dish that started in Quebec, which explains the name, silly French. It’s not an old dish, it was “invented” in the late 50′s. Hard to say that it was invented, probably more accurate that someone stumbled upon it, or discovered the possibilities. All the ingredients were already there, it’s not like someone set forth a new element. So popular is poutine in Canada that McDonald’s, Burger King, AND KFC all sell their own version of it. That’s cool. Not that any of it is likely real food, but it’s still cool. Like a Royale with cheese.
What is poutine? REAL poutine is simply french fries, topped with cheese curds, with brown gravy ladled on top. Nice – a health food then! Fake poutine can be found many places, where cheese curds are replaced with mozzarella. I don’t find that insulting or all that different but it seems like Canadians don’t have the same open view. What are cheese curds then? Just think of it as squeaky cheese. It’s really the solid part of sour milk, but you didn’t really want to know what. And yes I meant squeaky. If you can get fresh cheese curds (not likely outside of Canada or some specialty markets) they squeak when you eat them. Like rubbing two balloons together. Freaky huh? If you get them not so fresh (more than 12 hours after being produced) they don’t squeak. I don’t care if my cheese curds squeak (I rather prefer my food doesn’t produce its own party noises), but in Canada they must squeak. Duly noted.
So why would you want to eat poutine? It’s really quite good. There’s some different textures going on, gravy is awesome, and so are fries. If you can get by the squeaking (or buy stealth cheese curds – or even use mozzarella) – even better. I’ve had this dish a number of times and no matter where I’ve lived I’ve never been able to get actual cheese curds. I’ve had it three times in three different places in Seattle and none of them were close to authentic. One of them even was just terrible. How do you screw up fries, gravy, and cheese? Now that I live within a few hours drive of a Canadian border, I can indeed find cheese curds. 24 hours a day, no less. Cool. The company that makes them is in both Seattle and New York – so you East Coast folks close to New York can probably find them as well. Time to make this dish right then.
I just made baked french fries in my previous post. This dish is a really cool thing to do with those fries once you’ve made them. We took that batch of fries, added some of the aforementioned cheese curd, made some brown gravy (this is most commonly turkey gravy I think) – you can also cheat and get some of that brown gravy mix at the store. I dont’ frown upon that. It’s in fact what we did. This is lazy food, so why not embrace that spirit.
My recipe for fries is here. I think these fries lend themselves nicely to this recipe. As I said, I used a package thing for brown gravy. If you’ve got some stock and a bit of time you could make your own. The stuff I got was great and was one of those “just add water” kind of things. It’s called Simply Organic. I usually don’t plug specific brands – but this stuff was delicious and didn’t have any crap in it. Like I’d drink it if I thought my heart wouldn’t stop. And it’s easy. In five minutes it’s heated and thickened up, ready to use.
I plate my fries. The cheese curds go on cold. Mine were huge so we chopped them up a bit. That seemed reasonable. I got a six-ounce container and that was more than enough. The gravy goes over the fries and curds screaming hot. Between the hot fries and hot gravy the cheese curds warm up without melting – that’s supposed to be the way it’s eaten. If you don’t have cheese curds you can easily get yourself some shredded mozzarella and do the same thing. I think it’s pretty close and I rather enjoy it that way. Let’s not tell our friends to the North that though.
Fries (You can follow my recipe here, or use frozen ones and just bake those – no judgments) – Here’s what you need for that recipe just for review…:
- 4 Large Russet Potatoes
- Oil to Coat – both potatoes and pans – 3-4 tablespoons altogether maybe?
- 1 Tablespoon of Salt (plus whatever you need to season to taste when done)
- 1 Tablespoon of Freshly Ground Pepper (again – plus what you’ll need to season)
- 1 Teaspoon Paprika
- 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder (purely optional)
- Fries Of Some Sort – Either Recipe Here or Frozen
- 6 Ounce Package of Cheese Curds (Or Shredded Mozzarella)
- 1 Packet of Quality Brown Gravy Mix (Follow Directions on Package)