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Happy Canada Day! Have some Poutine.

By JulieVR |

If Canada were to have a national dish, it may just be poutine. Invented in Quebec in the late fifties, there are several claims of origin; a cafe owner in Warwick is said to have made some for a trucker who asked for both fries and cheese curds-another from Drummondville added gravy, supposedly to keep the mess warm.

Poutine is simply (and deliciously) a pile of medium-cut French fries topped with fresh cheddar curds and typically a chicken based sauce – not really gravy, but more of a peppered velouté (a simple sauce made with a butter-flour roux, with chicken stock added), but the standard sauce has since become the St. Hubert brand that comes from a pouch. If you want to do it from scratch, start with a tablespoon or two each of butter and flour in a saucepan; whisk to a paste over medium heat and then whisk in 2-4 cups of chicken stock, whisking until bubbly and thickened. Season with salt and pepper – especially pepper, if you’re going for authenticity.

A true poutine is made with very fresh cheese curds – no more than a day old – so that they squeak when you bite into them

I came across an old Cooks Illustrated story about French fries made with an entirely new method, wherein cold potato is set in cold oil in a pot and then brought to a boil together, much like you’d do when boiling potatoes in water. The crazy part is – there’s apparently less oil in the finished cold-start fries than in traditional ones. They’re simple and foolproof – definitely worth a try.

The original recipe seems a little wordier than I think it needs to be – I didn’t measure my oil, nor my potatoes. I didn’t use bacon fat (although that does seem worth a try, don’t you think?) and I cut two potatoes (unpeeled) into even sticks and put them in a pot, then covered them with canola oil. I did as I was told and covered the pot to bring it to a boil, which did indeed take about 5 minutes, but then I took the lid off (there’s condensation there – you don’t want that in your oil) and let it bubble away. It was odd, like I was boiling potatoes, only with oil. I gave them a stir after about 10 minutes, and in about 20 they were beautiful and golden. I took them out to drain on paper towels and showered them with salt. They had a lovely texture. Even more so with the cheese curds and sauce. Happy Canada Day!

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About JulieVR



Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of five best-selling cookbooks, food editor of Parents Canada magazine, a CBC Radio columnist and a freelance writer. Her award-winning blog, Dinner with Julie documents life in her home kitchen in Canada with her husband and 7-year-old son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Julie's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Happy Canada Day! Have some Poutine.

  1. lauren says:

    yay! i loooooooooooooove poutine. seeing this on babble today made me very happy. and very hungry. any idea where a gal in nyc could buy some curds?

  2. JulieVR says:

    Lauren – any good cheese shop should have them! They come in orange and white. Well worth seeking out!

  3. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef says:

    Happy Canada Day Julie! :) Even though I don’t live in Canada I would totally make this anyway!

  4. lauren says:

    thanks for the tips! i just checked around and found some places in the city that sell them. a funny thing about cheese curds… it seems that a lot of ill-informed people in the states think they’re actually illegal here and that’s the real reason why there’s a major shortage of poutine outside of canada! lol

    i’m definitely looking forward to trying out your recipe.

    and happy canada day, julie!

    -babble’s canadaphile photo editor, lauren :D

  5. Shaina0 says:

    Love cheese curds, and I’m going to have to try the boil in oil method.

  6. Jaime says:

    Oh, JOY!!!!! Oh, how I want some of this RIGHT NOW!!!!!!! I need to find some good, white, squeaky cheese curds. Wish me luck!

  7. Meagan H says:

    Mozzarella works in a pinch if you can’t find curds it what some of the places up North where I am from use it. Also a good rule of thumb is the thicker the gravy the better the poutine it blends better with the cheese that way.

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