This past August, just before the school year began, our family took a road trip to Toronto. As he does before every trip, my 9 year old son, the foodie, goes online to search for the foods to eat and the restaurants to visit. In his research, he discovered poutine, the Canadian dish of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy and he wrote down the places that are supposed to have the best poutine in the city. Let’s just say that my son ate A LOT of poutine during the four days we were away and requests it for dinner on a regular basis.
There are shortcuts you can take to make poutine (Trader Joe’s even makes a frozen version) but, when you want it to be really good, it’s worth making it from scratch using an authentic Canadian recipe, like this one from Seasons and Suppers.
(image and recipe from Seasons and Suppers)
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) cornstarch
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) water
6 Tbsp. (90 ml) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
20 oz. (568 ml) beef broth
10 oz. (284 ml) chicken broth
Pepper, to taste
Deep Fried Fries
2 lbs. Russet potatoes (3-4 medium potatoes)
Peanut or other frying oil
1 – 1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese curds (for authentic poutine. Torn chunks of mozzarella cheese would be the closest substitution)
Prepare the gravy: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.
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.
For Deep-Fried Fries: Prepare your potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch thick sticks. Place into a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Allow to stand at least one hour or several hours. When ready to cook, heat your oil in your deep fryer or large, wide, heavy cooking pot to 300° F.
Remove the potatoes from the water and place onto a sheet of paper towel. Blot to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
Add your fries to the 300° F. oil and cook for 5-8 minutes, just until potatoes are starting to cook but are not yet browned. Remove potatoes from oil and scatter on a wire rack. Increase oil temperature to 375° F. Once oil is heated to that temperature, return the potatoes to the fryer and cook until potatoes are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined bowl.
To Prepare Poutine: Add your fried or baked fries to a large, clean bowl. Season lightly with salt while still warm. Add a ladle of hot poutine gravy to the bowl and using tongs, toss the fries in the gravy. Add more gravy, as needed to mostly coat the fries.
Add the cheese curds and toss with the hot fries and gravy. Serve with freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.