I must admit that I am no historian or Canadian delicacy expert so don't come for me if anything I say is inaccurate. According to several sources, poutine was invented in 1957 by a man named Fernand Lachance who was a restaurant owner in Quebec, Canada. One of his customers ordered French fries with cheese curds and gravy on them, and so poutine was created. Also, bonus fact, "poutine" is Quebec slang for "a mess" which definitely describes this wonderful dish. While I've never been to Canada and tasted authentic poutine for myself I have always been curious about how something so simple and hearty could become so iconic.
When I was in Peru I had something that could possibly be a distant South American cousin of poutine. Salchipapas is a unique street food found in Peru that consists of fried potatoes topped with any number of things from caramelized onions to chorizo sausage drizzled with various sauces like ketchup, mayonnaise, or gravy. As usual, I was very excited to sink my teeth into this very indulgent dish and I enjoyed every minute of it. The fries were perfectly crisp and salty and the sausage added a nice spice to the dish. The best part, however, was when the sauce soaked into the fries causing them to be a bit soggy. The whole thing was just the best kind of unhealthy and I savored every last bite.
The great thing about dishes like poutine is that they can be so versatile. The base of fries and gravy and cheese lends itself to experimentation. In the picture above I added chicken and curry spices to make Chicken Tikka Poutine and the possibilities are endless. The recipe below is just the simple base recipe, but I encourage you to be creative with your poutine. Add different spice combinations different proteins or vegetables to make it your own. Happy cooking!
4 Tbs. butter
1/4 minced onion
3 Tbs. flour
2 cup broth of your choice
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a heavy sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until the onion is translucent.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir continuously until the flour is toasty and slightly brown.
Carefully pour in the broth continuing to stir until the mixture thickens into a gravy.
Season with salt and pepper and set to the side.
Vegetable oil for frying
2 lbs. of russet potatoes
2 cups of cheese curds
Wash and scrub the potatoes and chop into 1/2 inch sticks.
Soak them in cold water until you're ready to fry them.
Heat up about 4 inches of oil in a big sauce pan until a piece of bread immediately begins to bubble and brown when dropped in.
Working in smaller batches fry the potatoes the first time for about 5 minutes.
Drain the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with paper towel and pat off excess oil.
Once you've fried all the potatoes, fry them again!
Turn up the heat of the oil so that they are flash fried for crispiness.
Fry them in batches until they are golden brown, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Place them on a fresh baking sheet lined with paper towels and immediately season with plenty of salt.
To assemble the poutine pile the fries on a platter then sprinkle the cheese curds all over the fries.
Take the gravy and pour generously over the entire platter.