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Canada’s Favourite Dish: A Simple Poutine Recipe to Try at Home!

Poutine.

If Canada put it to a vote, this would be our national dish. Traditionally, it’s a pretty simple meal. You’ve got your fries, your squeaky cheese curds, and your gravy.

…and it’s amazing.

I will now take you through the quick and easy steps, adding just a few personal touches here and there, so that you too can make it at home!

First, the potatoes. I use Russets. Now, in this version I’ll be baking them rather of the traditional deep-frying method, so if you choose to use this type of potato, keep in mind that its starch content is rather high.

If you’re crisping them up in oil, this isn’t much of a problem, but because you will need to flip them from time to time on the baking sheet, you’ll need to exercise a little more care to keep them from falling apart. Alternatively, you could simply swap them out for a waxier potato, as there are many varieties to choose from.

You’ll notice I’ve peeled them, but that I didn’t “go psycho” with it, leaving skin here and there. Often I won’t even peel them at all, but this is really personal preference.

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Next, after slicing the potatoes lengthwise into “sheets” (roughly 1.5 – 1.75 centimetres in thickness), I cut each fry individually. You’ll want to make them as equal in size as you can so they cook at the same rate. And yes, making them thick is important. Spindly McDonalds-like fries are just going to shrivel up and overcook in no time. Symmetry is good too, so notice that I’ve cut them all to more or less the same length. “Eye appeal is half the meal,” I’ve learned. I’d estimate that the average Russet potato will produce fifteen to twenty (lousy) fries if the cook is unscrupulous about this step, but frankly, I’m fine with getting four to five good ones instead. Besides, any leftover “trimmings” you can simply throw in the compost heap, or, if you happen to live in a rural area and own pigs, you can chuck them at their heads for fun after you’ve eaten.

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If you can build a structure like this on the first attempt like I did, you’re doing a good job so far.

For a single serving, you’re going to want at least eight to nine inches in height. Dinner for two? Simply double it and build your structure sixteen to eighteen inches. Hosting a dinner party? Heh heh. Let’s just say I hope you were really good at Jenga as a kid. No, no – relax. I don’t want to spook you here. If it’s your first time attempting this recipe and your stack falls, don’t worry: just throw the fries out and start at the beginning. Don’t beat yourself up about it, we all make mistakes the first time around.

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Now you’re going to want to lightly oil an aluminium baking sheet and then toss on your fries. Then drizzle your favourite olive, cod liver, vegetable, or mineral oil over top and season with salt and pepper. Be generous, that’s eight to nine inches of potato you’re working with. Any additional seasoning you want to add is up to you. I used a bit of a secret dry rub recipe my Dad makes, and while I don’t know the exact ingredients myself, I can tell you that there are at least twenty of thirty. If you’re interested, simply comment or send me an email and I’ll give you his phone number / address. I’m sure he’ll send you a bag if you ask nicely.

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As your fries go into the oven, you should now take the rib roast you started earlier in the day out. Harvest the drippings and start on your gravy. That’s a process in and of itself, so I’m not going to go into detail here. I would advise asking your mother or grandmother or something, because they’re usually the ones in the family who know how to make a good gravy. In my family though, particularly on my Dad’s side, the men are the cooks. I don’t remember it, but I’m told I could mince an onion before I could walk. Anyway, after you’ve collected the drippings, simply discard the rest of the roast or give it to your dog or something. No, it’s not wasteful. This is a recipe with a singular vision and you don’t have time to wrap stuff up.

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Here’s my gravy on the go. Looks normal, right?

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WRONG! Because it’s been infused with white truffles, which I find add a beautifully “earthy” and aromatic flavour. I know, this step seems a little extravagant, but trust me, it’s well worth the expense and frankly, I can’t eat poutine anymore unless the gravy is the homemade, white truffle-infused variety. You can thank me later. Actually, no – thank me now. This was a lot of work, goddammit.

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You know what, by this stage in the game, you’ve earned a drink. I recommend you do as I did earlier this evening and head to your wine cellar for a quality Italian red. This is a modest 2010 Chianti that pairs very nicely, but it’s only a suggestion. If you want to use something a little less expensive, it’s totally up to you.

I mean, you’ll pretty much ruin the overall quality of the meal in my opinion, but like I said, it’s up to you. This is the way true Canadians eat our poutine at home, so if you’re looking for the genuine article…you’ve found it.

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These are St. Albert white cheddar cheese curds. I like them. I use the entire 200 gram bag on a single serving, so simply multiply that figure by the number of people you’re cooking for. Then do yourself a favour and double the result, because if anyone (including yourself) knows that these things are in stock, you’re going to eat at least a bag of them before you’re done preparing your poutine. I know I did.

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Now you’re going to want to season your T-Bone steak, which you’ve had resting at room temperature for a couple of hours. People who take them out of the fridge and right to the grill are only doing themselves a disservice, because the thing effectively has to thaw once it hits the rack. What you want is for the natural juices of the meat to instantly start dancing. It will also sear faster and cook through before you know it. But don’t you dare overcook it. If you say you like your steak “well done,” you might as well serve up your old pair of Doc Martens.

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Perfect. This is what you’re looking for, right here:

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A lot of people stupidly pour the steak’s juices down the sink and let the thing drip-dry as they dangle it with their pair of tongs. Don’t do this. Don’t even move it from the plate. Simply grab your tin foil and “tent” that sucker. You don’t need to poke those little holes in the top like I did, by the way. Like…at all. But I thought it’d kind of make it look like a metal pie, you know? Like, something a robot might eat? And do you know what? I was right! Heh heh heh!

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Okay, so your t-bone has two hemispheres, if you will: one will be smaller than the other, and it’s known as the “fillet mignon” section. French is a strange language in a lot of ways, and one thing you’ll notice about it is that because its words are either masculine or feminine, certain…decisions had to be made. More often than not, the more diminutive or effeminate the object, the greater the likelihood it’s feminine. In this case, the fillet mignon literally means the “dainty” or “cute” cut of meat. But don’t feel bad, ladies: we’re keeping that bit and discarding the rest! You GO, girl!

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This. This right here is what you want. By now your fries are done, your gravy is simmering gently on your stovetop, and it’s time to begin plating. Now, normally when you dig to the bottom of something you’re eating, what’s AT the bottom is pretty lousy, right? Not with this recipe. Take your thinly-sliced cuts of fillet mignon and arrange them around the perimeter of your plate like the hours on a clock or petals on a flower. Come to think of it, do it like the petals on a flower – there are typically more petals than hours. Though it would be fun to announce that it’s “quarter-past meat” or “ten to meat” or…okay, I’d better stop with that. It could go on for meat.

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Now that you’ve laid out the steak and piled the fries high, you’ll want to layer them with curds and the white truffle gravy. Next, reach for your saffron. A little goes a long way, so be a bit sparing here.

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If you’ve got a cat like I do, be sure to get his or her toy lizard out and use it as a diversion, because when they smell THIS meal, they’re going to want some too. Here’s Steve the Cat with Dwayne the Lizard. These two are quite inseparable.

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Yeah, that’s the STUFF!! If there’s a photo that demands to be maximized in this post, it’s THIS one:

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Oh, and this one!

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Excellent meal! I hope I see lots of comments and hear YOUR response, reader. Are you going to give this recipe a shot? Let me know!