It’s heart-warming to know that something that sounds posh, is in fact, satisfyingly simple to cook.
Poutine (pronounced ‘poo-teen’) is a French-Canadian classic that’s been enjoyed across Canada and North America for years, but it’s only just making it to our shores.
Brits can now enjoy a taste of this super satisfying, generously sized (no poncey portions here), scrumptious meal that’s also famous for its ‘day after’ curative powers.
What is poutine?
Yep, ahead of the party season, we can now pile our plates high with chips (French fries), fresh cheese curds (the by-product of cheese making, as in ‘curds and whey’) and wait for it, gravy. A feast for the eyes, poutine combines crispy oven chips, topped with the curds and lashings of rich, brown gravy. Delicious on its own or as a side - if you have enough room, suggested serves are with seafood – the secret is all in the preparation.
How do you make poutine?
Ideally, the fries should be freshly made and cooked until perfectly crisp; the fresh cheese curds should be cut into small pieces and the gravy (try to avoid gravy granules) must be well-seasoned and made from scratch, so the trio of flavours are beautifully balanced.
Try to imagine tucking into the fries laced with melted cheese and a hot glaze of beefy gravy. As the flavours meld together, the textures soften – it’s perfect comfort food.
Where did it come from?
It’s a mystery as to why we’ve had to wait so long for this tasty treat, which hopefully should be popping up on more and more menus. According to folklore, poutine can be put down to the hungry appetite of a truck driver who, back in the 1950s, wanted ‘something hot to go.’ An obliging chef by the name of Fernand Lachance, who worked in a diner in rural Quebec, combined hot French fries and cheese curds but warned the driver: “It will make a damn mess!”
As time went by, the dish became so popular that diners customized it with tomato ketchup and other sauces, and later gravy, to keep the food piping hot during wintertime.
And while it sounds like the sort of recipe that might not make it to the dizzy heights of fine dining, don’t be surprised if you suddenly see poutine served alongside crab, lobster or duck confit.
Such is its appeal, trendy restaurants have started to create ‘Poutinerie Menus’ to channel the fast-food culinary world of Canada.