Tuesday, September 14, 2010


*This recipe comes from Rebecca L.

I had recently roasted a chicken à la Anthony Bourdain, and at his strong suggestion in his, “Les Halles Cookbook”, used the bones to make a homemade dark chicken stock. After roasting the bones along with the trinity of vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery), and simmering (never boiling! That’s a nono, apparently) the lot away for over 8 hours on the stove with fresh herbs, I was a bit attached to this stock. I wanted to use it in a dish that would highlight the deep flavors that I had labored to bring about. And once the weather here in Wyoming started getting downright chilly in the mornings and evenings, it hit me: poutine. A staple of Canadian cuisine, I had first encountered this dish in Montreal. It is a surprisingly simple dish at first sight: fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Now you can go and buy Ore-Ida frozen fries, a can of gravy, and some cheap Kraft shredded cheese, and it would probably taste alright. Hell, how can those three ingredients go wrong together, even if they’re the instant variety? But if you take a little time and effort, you can elevate this recipe from bar food to a downright glorious one-dish meal, worthy of pairing with a great glass of wine. The time and care is really spent on the poutine sauce, which stems from velouté, which should be based on a dark, rich homemade chicken or veal stock.

For the velouté:
1 quart of chicken or veal stock
2 Tb butter
2 Tb flour

-Bring the stock to a boil in a pot.
-Meanwhile, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add the flour gradually and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes, making a roux.
-The roux shouldn’t get too dark, so slowly pour some of the boiling stock into it, stirring constantly, until you get a consistency you wouldn’t mind pouring back in with the remaining stock. Add back to the remaining stock.
-Simmer for at least 40 minutes, skimming every 10 or so. Then strain well through a mesh lined with cheesecloth (if you’ve got this; I just strained through a fine mesh a few times, and it turned out fine). Add salt and pepper to taste.

You now have your velouté sauce, which only needs to be reduced to at least a half (up to a quarter) of its volume to become poutine sauce. Do this by simmering, not boiling, and stirring every so often. The resulting texture should be velvety.
Get out a bowl and throw a few fresh cheese curds into it. Then layer some home-made French fries on top, followed by more cheese curds, and topped with a generous ladling of poutine sauce.

This dish is fun to get creative with. To the poutine, I added a few shots of a white wine pan reduction I had made for the roast chicken that started this whole thing. This really added another dimension to the already incredible sauce. In Canada, they have menus full of varying types of poutine, some even with foie gras. If there are no fresh cheese curds available, use freshly shredded mozzarella or sharp cheddar. Top with bacon or crumbled sausage. Just have fun. And even though you can’t really go wrong with the basic ratio of parts for this dish, remember, the quality of your ingredients will greatly affect the quality of the finished meal.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, I've only had poutine once: made by 3 crazy Canadians on Canada Day. In Greece. During excavation. I am willing to bet real money that this is five billion times better... although still perhaps a heart attack on a plate. But yum.