Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Poutine Adventure

One reason for starting this blog is the outrageous amount of time I have on my hands right now. During my three and half years of college I never had enough time and no break was ever long enough for me. Between work, classes, homework, and actually attempting to have a personal life I felt like I was burning my candle at both its ends. Now I have more time than I ever dreamed and I haven't decided if it is good or not.

However, now that I don't spend several hours a night reading textbooks and writing papers, I have time and the mental freedom to create.  This has led to huge gains in the arena of dinner and cooking. During college my husband and I would cook dinner together, but they were quick meals and were always the same quick meals. After freshmen year I refused to eat spaghetti (I am still burnt out on tomato pasta sauce).  Now meals do not have to be quick and we can branch out and try things that we have always wanted to eat. One that my husband has been wanting to try for months is poutine.
My kingdom for a buttered roll!

Poutine is a dish native to Quebec, Canada. My husband tried to find a restaurant in much closer British Columbia that served poutine, but he had no luck. However, he was able to find a website that detailed how to make the dish. It is really quite a simple, homey, greasy spoon type dish. It combines fries, fresh cheese curds, and brown gravy. The most demanding part of this recipe is making the gravy.

 Which sounds quite demanding. Who makes their own gravy? Only our grandmas who learned it from their mothers back when everything was made from scratch. Now making things from scratch is like bragging or being pretentious. Who has that much time or patience or talent? A good modern American makes everything from bags, bottles, and boxes right? However, prior to previous belief making a gravy from scratch or at least this one was quite simple.
Look at that gravy just simmering away. 
It is the only thing you actively need to "cook". It does take some time. The gravy needs time to simmer and reduce to make it more gravy-y.  It took us around 40 minutes. The fries we used were just your normal frozen fries from your local grocery store. 
The only other weird ingredient is the fresh cheese curds. Now I love cheese, but I have never had cheese curds. However, they are nothing to be afraid of especially once they are covered in gravy.

Nothing to be afraid of but their deliciousness.
Once the gravy has reduced and the fries are cook to a lovely crispness, it is time to assemble. And it creates a wonderful dish. Who can saw no to a plate full of fries and cheese? Now many of you may draw the line at the gravy because lets be honest that just sounds weird. But I plead, please lets think about it. Fries are just potatoes and we actively put gravy on mashed potatoes. Let me assure you that once that lovely peppery gravy soaks into the fries, you will be put right back to that place. Potatoes and gravy are meant for each other. 
Don't let the presentation fool you. I swear it a self preservation technique. 
The only complaint I had was that I was so full that I couldn't sop up all the extra gravy with a piece of buttered bread. I can predict using this gravy recipe in many different dishes. If you are really feeling adventurous you might want to try to make your own fries! 

Poutine  adapted from http://montrealpoutine.com
Gravy or Veloute sauce
  • 1 quart stock: chicken or veal (We used chicken)
  • 1/4 cup flour (We used bleached all purpose
  • 1/4 cup butter or oil (We used unsalted butter.)
  • Pepper
Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan.
Combine the fat and flour, cook over high heat, stirring until you have a pale roux (2-3 minutes).
Whip the roux into the stock. Simmer (30-40 min), skimming the surface every 5-10 minutes. (We did not really skim that much.) 
Strain the sauce through a chinois or strainer lined with cheesecloth. (We didn't follow this step at all) Salt and pepper to taste. (I suggest quite a bit of pepper. We didn't need the salt.)
Cook the fries as package suggests. The website suggests the McCain brand, but we couldn't find it so we just used Ore-Ida. I suggest finding fries that are between steak fries and thin shoestring fries. 
The Cheese curds need to be somewhat fresh. We got ours from the Whole Foods cheese section. If your grocery store has a gourmet cheese section I believe they should have them. 
Once your gravy and fries are done, put some cheese curds over your fries and then pour gravy over the plate. I suggest letting the gravy soak in for a minute or two (which will also let it cool to eat). 

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