Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eating the Americas: Poutine

Eating the Americas

Although we've *officially* finished our social studies for the year, we are still "Eating the Americas" during the summer with a sampling of foods that are associated with Canada and USA, or are regional specialties in those countries. (And we may still try a few more things from Central America.) A couple weeks ago, I asked the kids to tell me what foods they thought might be representative of our home countries. One of the first dishes they named from Canada was poutine. As a Canadian myself, I can remember enjoying poutine since my own childhood, but I used to think its origins might have been from Louisiana! (Maybe poutine is popular there too - if there's an Acadian connection?) But by most accounts, this dish was invented in Quebec sometime in the 1950s. If you're not familiar with it, it's really very simple - french fries with cheese curds and gravy. In fact, we used to look forward to eating poutine whenever we went to Canada for a visit, and then it dawned on us that it would be ever so simple to make our own at home. Duh.

French fries - you can make your own or cook up some frozen ones. Shoestring, classic fries, or crinkle cuts will work fine.

You will also need cheese. Specifically, cheese curds. If at all possible, get the super fresh made-that-day curds directly from a cheesemaker. They should be so fresh that they squeak in your teeth when you bite into them. When I was growing up, this was one of our all-time favorite treats - squeaky-fresh slightly salty cheese curds. Mmmm... We never had any left to put with our fries, which is why we didn't make our own poutine when I was a kid. But I digress. If you can't buy them that fresh (and in some states, like mine, you cannot!), see if you can find these Yancey's Fancy ones or something like it at the grocery store. You could make them yourself, but so far, I'm not quite at that level of commitment.
There were only something like seven curds left in our package the day I wanted to make poutine, which is clearly not enough, and they were not fresh enough any more, so I went with an acceptable alternative - mozzarella. Mild cheddar will also work. Just cut it up into cubes and toss it onto the hot fries.

Now you need gravy. A little research told me that the "original" gravy used for poutine was a sauce made from thickened chicken-based stock (or veloute), but in my opinion, any gravy will work fine. I've had poutine with veloute, chicken or turkey gravy, and beef or brown gravy. I used simple brown gravy for this poutine. Just pour the hot gravy over the fries and curds and let the cheese get really melt-y, and then dig in.

As with so many simple, homey foods, there are multiple variations on poutine, and in restaurants and in homes, it can be dressed up or modified into a gourmet or specialty dish. You can add meat to make it more hearty - bacon, pulled pork, chicken, turkey, or kielbasa. You could add fried onions or mushrooms. You can use other cheeses. You can use different sauce - marinara sauce (for Poutine Italienne), or heated barbecue sauce (with pulled pork) are two examples.

The day we had our Canadian poutine, we enjoyed it as a side dish, and for the main dish there was a choice of American hot dogs or Mexican-style chorizo grilled with peppers. A north-to-south meal!

Are you familiar with poutine? Is it a dish you would have associated with Canada? Leave a comment and let me know!
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Stefanie said...

I was dying laughing at your level of commitment. Mine's not that strong for cooking either. lol

Kym said...

LOL Just keepin' it real. ;-)

Jennifer said...

I've never heard of poutine before, but I like all of the ingredients. It sounds like a kid friendly food for sure.

Lisa Boyle said...

I, too, had never heard of poutine before reading this post, but it looks so good! Thanks for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday." I look forward each week to seeing what you will share.

kewkew said...

Thanks for sharing about this on Tots and Me. We will be having this with our Tourtiere tonight.

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