Have you ever had poutine? It’s this mouth-watering mound of French fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in a hot gravy-like sauce – so hot, in fact, that it melts the curds!
Poutine is a Canadian dish originating from Quebec in the 1950s. I did a little research and couldn’t find the exact origin, because several towns in Quebec claim to be the inventors of the dish, but I did find this interesting tale. Apparently, a 1950s restaurant owner named Fernand Lachance, was asked to put a handful of cheese curds on a plate of French fries by one of his regular customers. Lachance is said to have exclaimed, “ça va faire une maudite poutine” (it will make a damn mess). Hence, the name for the dish came to be. Apparently, the sauce was added to the dish later with the purpose of keeping the French fries warm for a longer period of time.
You see!? Blogging is educational!
Truth be told (and I might be shunned for this!), I’m not a fan of the sauce used in authentic poutine recipes. I prefer a brown gravy, because poutine sauce tastes a little sour to me. In my version of the diner classic, I like to use a thicker gravy so that I can get more of it on the French fry before stuffing into my mouth. If you prefer a thinner gravy, just add a little water and whisk it in to incorporate. I also needed to make vegetarian gravy, and I don’t like to use those gravy-starter packets that you can find in the spice aisle. There’s just way too much sodium, and most of them, have some type of meat product in it. That’s why I prefer to use my mushroom gravy recipe for homemade poutine. The mushrooms provide an added depth of flavour to the basic poutine dish.
I should also point out that if you can’t find cheese curds, I have, in a pinch, used regular cheddar cheese. But, nowadays, most cheese shops and grocery stores carry curds.
The recipe below will detail how to make the vegetarian mushroom gravy. After all, most cooks will know how to prepare French fries. However, I’m going to tell you how to do it my way. If John.e were here, he would tell you that my way is always the best way. 🙂
First, use real potatoes – none of this store-bought, prepackaged, frozen French fry mess! Don’t get me wrong, they’re fine, but if you’re going to put in the effort to make such a tremendously delicious gravy, then make your own French fries too. Please! I use approximately three potatoes per person. Wash them well and leave the skin on. Cut away any areas of the potato you prefer not to eat. Next, cut the potato to resemble thick-cut French fries and rinse them in cold water. Leave the cut potatoes sitting in cold water until you are ready to fry them.
To fry the potatoes, heat the oil completely. I always use number seven on my burner. My oven allows for burner temperatures ranging from 1 – 10, so if I’m using 7, coordinate your burner temperature gauge accordingly. (If you’re using a deep fryer, then you won’t need to worry about any of this!) Carefully place the potatoes into the hot oil and using a wooden utensil, move them around so that every piece is submerged. Once the potatoes are browned, remove them to a towel-lined baking sheet. At this point, you can fry the next batch if you need to do so. Otherwise, here’s the final step. Are you ready for this? Turn the heat up on your burner from 7 to 9 and wait a few minutes for the oil to reach a higher cooking temperature. Carefully return the already-browned French fries back into the oil and let them fry a second time.
What!? Am I crazy? Trust me – home cut potato fries (no matter how brown and crispy you fry them) will become soggy a few minutes after you remove them from the oil. Frying them a second time, at a higher temperature, locks in the softness of the already cooked potato on the inside, but crisps up the outer portion the way a French fry is meant to be. The second time around in the oil will not need as much time. I usually move the fries about a bit with my wooden spoon and remove them from the oil again after 2-3 minutes.
This is when you would toss the double-fried fries with some salt, pile them high on a plate, add the cheese curds, and ladle over some of that delicious vegetarian mushroom gravy you’ve just prepared. Yum! Go ahead… eat it while it’s hot. You can come back here and thank me later. 😉
Poutine with Mushroom Gravy
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups water
- Using only 1 tablespoon of the butter, sauté the mushrooms and onions in a large sauté pan
- Be sure to cook the mushrooms until they a very dark in colour
- Push the mushrooms to one side of the sauté pan and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter
- Once this butter is melted, add the flour and stir the flour into the butter
- Poor in the water and stir the entire contents of the sauté pan together
- Add in the soy sauce and the vegetarian Worcestershire sauce; stir
- Add the pepper; stir; and taste for seasoning before adding additional salt