Outdoor Eats: The Magical Mess of Poutine
Published on 02/20/2013
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Whether you think its debauched and overkill or the perfect base for all your cold-weather plans, you will be hard-pressed to visit our neighbors to the north without at least sampling the indulgent Canadian fare known as poutine. Pronounced poo-TEEN, from Winnipeg to Whistler, this sloppy concoction has been fueling up skiers and bar patrons in the northlands since it originated near Quebec around 1957. But while origins and recipes may vary with where and whom you’re asking, the basics are always the same: French fries, gravy and the all-important cheese curds.
This hot, greasy mess may not be the healthiest recipe we’ve featured on Outdoor Eats, but poutine is synonymous with skiing in Canada, and that makes it classic adventure food. And we burned off all of those calories on the mountain anyway, right? This recipe makes a pretty heaping serving but you can multiply if you’re feeding a group. And though it can never match a late-night, or early morning, Canadian pub stop, this recipe will definitely tide you over when you can’t make it to the border.
-5 medium potatoes. Yukon Golds, the little red guys, whatever you like. Alternately, the frozen, store bought French fries you bake in the oven will work fine, and cut down the grease factor, but that’s not really the point of poutine.
-1 quart peanut or canola oil. There is going to be hot oil-frying involved here so take the necessary precautions.
-2 cups fresh cheese curds. In a pinch you can use cubed fresh mozzarella or cheddar- but only when desperate.
-2 cups gravy. This is our gravy recipe but you can substitute your own…
-¼ stick butter
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-2 cups chicken broth
-¼ cup heavy cream
What To Do
Wash your potatoes and, leaving the skins on, cut them into fry shape. The smaller the fries, the crispier they will be. Soak the cut potatoes in a bowl of water for about 10 min. In a large skillet heat your oil to about 170°C, or right before it starts bubbling and spitting. Dry off the potatoes (oil and water make for some nasty burns) and fry them in the oil for about 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove the fries from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel while you make your gravy.
To make the gravy melt your butter in a sauce pan on low heat. Add the flour and whisk till you can no longer see any flour bits, or about 30 seconds. Keep at a simmer and whisk in cream and broth. Simmer and stir about 5 minutes or until it’s a gravy consistency. If things are too runny, add a sprinkle more flour. Too thick, a teaspoon more broth. Set aside while you finish your fries.
Turn the oil back up to just about bubbling, or around 190°C. When the oil is hot again, add the potatoes back into the skillet and fry them for about 2 minutes or until they start looking good and crisp. Remove the fries from the oil and let dry for a moment again on paper towels before sprinkling with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, cover the hot fries with gravy and cheese curds. Be sure to eat while still steaming hot, and a few beers deep, for the full effect.