Want a taste of international travel without leaving your kitchen? Try making Québecois creation – poutine. The dish which features potatoes swimming in gravy and sprinkled with cheese may be a “damn mess”, but it’s a damn delicious mess and one of Canada's favorite treats.
What is it?
Stab your fork into the pile of potatoes and pull out a starchy spear, drenched in gravy and dripping with cheese. It’s not elegant, but it’s a perfect cure for the munchies after a last call at the pub. It’s a staple of ski resorts, casual eateries and chip stands, too – fast-food stalls sell burgers, hot dogs and sometimes fried fish along with poutine. Wherever you’re indulging, let your poutine sit for a minute or two, so the cheese begins to melt and soak into the gravy. Don’t wait too long or the potatoes will get soggy. You want the ideal balance of crisp potato, soft cheese and gooey gravy.
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the chicken gravy
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
For the fries
5 potatoes, peeled and sliced into fries
vegetable oil, for frying
400g (14oz) fresh cheese curds
How to cook
Step 1: Prepare the gravy. If using a ready-mixed sauce, simply warm according to the packet instructions.
Step 2: If making your own gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour until it becomes a yellow paste.
Step 3: Slowly whisk in the stock, ensuring it is free of lumps.
Step 4: Let it simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the volume reduces by about a third. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
Step 5: While the gravy is simmering, rinse the potatoes in cold water and dry thoroughly.
Step 6: Deep-fry or shallow-fry the potatoes until golden brown.
Step 7: Place the fries in a shallow bowl and top with the cheese curds and smother with the gravy. Serve immediately.
A classic poutine is usually made from St Hubert packet sauce and fresh cheese curds, which are readily available in Quebecois supermarkets. Shredded mozzarella and ready-mix chicken gravy are acceptable substitutes.
Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet.
This article was originally published in April 2020 and updated in September 2020.