Maple Syrup and Poutine - that’s what Canadians are known for. But what exactly is Poutine? Poutine is a mouth-watering dish composed of fries topped with cheese curds and hot brown gravy. A delicious mess, that is.
Actually, ‘Poutine’ literally means ‘mess’ in joual – Québécois slang. Being a French-Canadian classic, Poutine has gained a reputation as one of Canada’s favourite food.
Where did it start?
The most widespread story is that poutine was invented in a small dairy-farming town of Warwick, Québec, in 1957. In the restaurant formerly called Le Lutin qui rit, a customer asked the owner Fernand Lachance to throw cheese curds and French fries, which are two items the owner sold separately, together in one bag because the customer was in a hurry. When Lachance peered into the bag after the two ingredients were mixed together, he remarked, “This is a ‘poutine,’” meaning, in joual a "mess.”
What was noticeably absent from Lachance’s rushed recipe is the gravy ingredient. The gravy was was added to the mix in 1964 when a restaurant-owner in nearby Drummondville, Jean-Paul Roy, noticed some of the clients ordering a side of cheese curds to add to the gravy sauce and fries’ dish. Roy soon added the three-ingredient item on his menu and the rest is delicious, mouth-watering gravy-soaked history.
Since then, Poutine has grown to become much more than just gravy, fries and cheese curds. Nowadays you can eat meatball poutine, Greek-style poutine, gnocchi poutine and the fan-favoured maple bacon poutine.
How to properly make it and eat it
Here’s the authentic Canadian Poutine recipe.
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
20 oz beef broth
10 oz chicken broth
Pepper, to taste
2 lbs Russet potatoes, (3-4 medium potatoes)
Peanut or other frying oil
1 - 1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese curds
- Prepare the gravy: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns golden brown.
- Add the beef and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in about HALF the cornstarch mixture and simmer for a minute or so.
- Season with pepper. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, to taste. Make ahead and re-warm or keep warm until your fries are ready.
- For Deep-Fried Fries: Prepare your potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch thick sticks.
- Place into a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Allow to stand at least one hour or several hours. When ready to cook, heat your oil in your deep fryer or large, wide, heavy cooking pot to 300° F.
- Remove the potatoes from the water and place onto a sheet of paper towel. Blot to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
- Add your fries to the 300°F oil and cook for 5-8 minutes, just until potatoes are starting to cook but are not yet browned.
- Remove potatoes from oil and scatter on a wire rack. Increase oil temperature to 375°F Once oil is heated to that temperature, return the potatoes to the fryer and cook until potatoes are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined bowl.
- To Prepare Poutine: Add your fried or baked fries to a large, clean bowl. Season lightly with salt while still warm. Add a ladle of hot poutine gravy to the bowl and using tongs, toss the fries in the gravy. Add more gravy, as needed to mostly coat the fries.
- Add the cheese curds and toss with the hot fries and gravy. Serve with freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
- When it comes to poutine, a fork is the only way to go. The combination of gravy and melted cheese is a mess to eat with your fingers.
If cooking your own Poutine isn’t your style, you can support local and visit the following Poutine locations in Ottawa:
- Smoke`s Poutinerie Ottawa, 407 Dalhousie St, Ottawa, ON K1N 9K4
- Say Cheese pizza & poutine, 1581 Bank St a, Ottawa, ON K1H 7Z3
- The Great Canadian Poutinerie – Poutine, 200 Deschamps Ave, Vanier, ON K1L 1A7
- The Great Canadian Poutinerie - Poutine & Smoked Meat, 311 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P 0R2
- Mr. Poutine, 1075A Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1S 0R4
- Poutine in colours, 2201 Arch St, Ottawa, ON K1G 2H5