Saturday, March 27, 2010

Poutine!

This is one of my all-time favourite fast foods.  Having grown up in Timmins, Ontario, I have tasted my fair share of poutine and can safely call myself a connoisseur.  You can dress it up with things like braised beef or foie gras or peppercorn gravy, but to me, nothing beats the classic.


Ingredients (serves 4):


  • 6 large russet potatoes
  • 2 cups fresh cheese curds
  • 3 cups homemade beef stock
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • salt & pepper

For the gravy:
  1. Melt 1tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and thyme (full sprigs). Sauté until the shallots are just golden.
  2. Add the wine, and turn up the heat to a boil. Reduce wine by 1/2. Discard the thyme and turn the heat down until you're ready for the next step.
  3. In a separate saucepan, melt 3 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, constantly stirring, until it smells a slightly nutty and no longer tastes floury (about 5-8 minutes). This is your roux.
  4. Slowly add about 1 cup beef stock to the roux, whisking constantly so you have no lumps. Add mixture to wine/shallot saucepan, and add in the rest of the stock, whisking to incorporate. Bring to a boil and reduce until it's the consistency you want - my gravy is a bit thinner than some gravies (about the consistency of slightly warm yogurt), so it's up to you how thick you want it. Note: you may need to add more flour to make it less runny ... if this is the case, mix flour, a pinch of salt, and water in a small bowl to make a thin paste ... add that to your gravy to thicken.
  5. Taste it!! It will likely need salt. If it's not the depth of flavour you want, reduce it more to concentrate the flavours. Also, if you happen to have veal or beef demiglace handy, you can add that to increase body. Finish the gravy with the last nob of butter. This will give it a nice sheen and a more velvety texture.

Note: gravy can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Just re-heat in a saucepan at medium-low heat.

For the fries:
  1. Peel and wash the potatoes. Cut into equal-sized matchsticks (mine were about 1/2" thick). Immerse them in cold water until you're ready to cook them.
  2. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until they are just barely UNDER-done. Drain and let cool slightly. They can hang out for a couple hours like this. The drier they are, the better.
  3. In a large pot, fill us 1/3 (no more than 1/2 full or the oil will boil over and you'll burn yourself) with vegetable oil. Heat oil to 375 (use a candy thermometer to check the temp). Working in small batches, carefully lower potatoes into the hot oil with a sieve and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are golden brown. 

Note: if your oil is too hot, you'll just burn the potatoes and they may not finish cooking through. If the oil isn't hot enough, they will be soggy and oily. Feel free to use a deep fryer if you have one. You will also need to be sure to let the oil return to 375 between batches.

To assemble poutine, put a layer of fries in a bowl. Add a handful of cheese curds. Repeat layers (I usually just do 2 layers). Top with hot gravy and enjoy!!

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