April 4 - O Poutine!

The St Hubert chicken > Col Sanders.

I've been enthralled with Canadian culture for a while. It's a combination of hockey, music, and teenage soap operas. Mainly the last one. I wait with bated breath for the next episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation. I'm addicted to it. In a very unhealthy way.

Made more unhealthy by the fact that it's sparked a curiosity in me about poutine. Poutine is the national dish of Canada. It's what the Quebecois fur trappers used to eat on the tundra when the winters got tough and they needed to keep up their strength for the annual reindeer chase. With the upcoming premier of the Degrassi Spring Break Movie, I could see no reason to put off trying this mightily caloric dish.

De-starching process.

It starts with a foundation of fries, preferably freshly made. I'd never made fries before, but had I realized how simple and delicious homemade fries are I would likely be a much fatter girl. I used one large russet potato per person. I used my v-slicer to cut the into 1/4 inch strips and the soaked them in cold water overnight.

I had ordered the sauce mix on Ebay some months back. It's from Canada's first fast food chain restaurant, St Hubert. It is of course named after the patron saint of poutine, who is a national hero in Canada. St Hubert day is a nationally recognized holiday that everyone gets off work to drink Labatt Blue and eat poutine in his honor.

The excitement! It's building!

The packet gets emptied into a couple cups of cold water and boiled until it thickens. Ridiculously easy. It has a mild but hearty flavor. I think I may try to do homemade poutine gravy someday, but I have something like 5 more packets of this stuff to go through first.

Damn you, Ebay!

The potato strips got drained and dried and then dropped in 325 degree oil for about 10 minutes, or long enough for them to get pretty flexible. Then I let the rest on paper towels for about 15 minutes, but you can leave them for up to two hours before finishing them. When I was ready to assemble my poutine, I put the fries back into the oil now at 350 for a couple minutes to crisp the outsides. Man they were tasty.

Ignore the grease. Who wants to be healthy anyway?

The next ingredient needed for poutine glory is fresh white cheddar cheese curds. Luckily, I live in Seattle, and have access to Beecher's cheese shop. They make cheese on site and a variety of cheese-related items. Their mac and cheese is something magical to behold. Anyway, I picked up my curds there, and applied them to my poutine project.

Now if I only had some way. . .

As soon as the fries were done, they went into a bowl with a handful of curds on top. I poured the piping hot sauce over everything and voila! Poutine for six!

The poutine! It's. . . magnificent!

I was mostly pleased with the result. It was tasty enough, and the fries were G.D. delicious. I'll definitely make those again. Probably with sweet potatoes. The curds were tasty, but didn't get melty in the dish. I may have to put them more in between the fries before oozing on the gravy. I'm not sure how close this is to authentic French-Canadian poutine, but it was pretty good. In a very wrong incredibly unhealthy way.

By the way, the Degrassi Spring Break Movie was something of a disappointment. It was more like three episodes of the show rather than an actual movie, especially in the A-plot B-plot aspect. The A-plot did involve my favorite character getting into wacky adventures, which is awesome, but the B-plot sucked big time. Come on, Degrassi, was that really necessary?

Degrassi: They're really reaching.


Vero said...

I'm happy that people elsewhere appreciate the greatness of Poutine. (I like to add ketchup to it when I eat it, yum!)

But, I'd like to correct a few things. St-Hubert is not a Fast Food chain but something similar to Outback or Little Caesar's. They specialize in Roasted Chicken.

Also, St-Hubert is not a national hero, not in Canada and not in Quebec. You are referring to the Quebec National day which is the St-Jean, when people do drink Labatt Blue but there's no link to Poutine.

I agree with you, the St-Hubert sauce, in my humble opinion, is not that great. Hope you get to make a great homemade one, it really enhances the whole thing.


Cathy said...

The fries look glorious but the poutine err,maybe not so!
By the way,those fries would be delicious eaten with soft serve ice cream(as long as we exploring unusual taste sensations :) ).All in all ,home frying is so much work!Kudos to you for putting up with the aggravation at home.

gracie la rose said...

While I'm happy to see that someone loves poutine as much as I do...I must say that you've got to work on a few things.
First, never used packaged "sauce". It's just not right. You need REAL gravy, or rotisserie sauce which is just a thinner gravy with special spices. Preferably chicken, although beef is popular.
Second, St. Hubert operates fewer than 80 restaurants, as well as smaller "express" fast-food chains. None of these are farther south than Cornwall, Ontario...and most of them are in the province of Quebec. Most Canadians don't even know that St. Hubert restaurants exist.
Third, poutine was created in the 1950s...significantly after fur-traders filled their bellies in the 1800s and early 1900s.
annnnd...the original Degrassi was so much cooler, but then again...it was new when I was growing up! (eeek!)

next time, either layer the curd in between fries, or stick it under the broiler for a few minutes...that'll make your curd nice and melty.

And can someone please explain to me what freaks Americans out about poutine? I mean honestly...you guys eat CHEESE FRIES!

Elle said...

mmmmm, poutine! I live in New England, and there are lots of Canadians that live here--there's one restaurant in particular, and they serve the best poutine! They use beef gravy. If anyone is thinking this would be gross, it isn't! Give it a try!

yen said...

vero - ketchup in poutine? interesting. . .

cathy - don't even tempt me.

gracie - yeah, I think I'll try a homemade sauce next time for enhanced delicious, and thanks for the broiler tip!!

elle - I don't know why beef gravy would be any weirder than chicken.

re: my Canadian facts - I have closely studied Canadian culture for many years, even living among them undetected for a period of time. everything I say is true.

Kevin said...

That poutine looks so good. It has been too long since I last had poutine. I like the idea of using sweet potatoes.

Romane said...

I have to say that Poutine is Quebecois, I don't think they even know poutine in Canada...

We have also what we called Poutine Italienne wich is the same recipe but with spaghetti sauce instead of brown gravy.

And in Matane, Gasp├ęsie, we put shrimps in it... so good!

yen said...

kevin - the sweet potato idea was actually a fair success, I was pleased. the sweet/salty thing worked.

romane - last I checked, Quebec hasn't seceded from Canada yet.