The idea of Poutine has haunted me for ages. I dreamt of the days when I could sit down in a Canadian pub and eat this decadent dish. Then, one day, the most bizarre thought occurred – I could make it myself. I have no basis for comparison so if I make it wrong would I know.
What is Poutine? It’s french fries with cheese curds and brown gravy. I’d seen it parade to numerous tables on a variety of travel food shows. How hard could that really be?
Well the thought grew when I realized that I was going to be passing Ferdinand’s during their open hours. What’s Ferdinand’s? you ask. I tell you, it’s the best thing ever created. Ferdinand’s is the home of Cougar Gold Cheese and the best ice cream you’d ever eat. They are only open Monday through Friday and never past 4:30 so it’s not an easy place to visit if you work normal hours. I understand why – you can get the cheese and ice cream at other locations in the area but I guarantee they are far cheaper at Ferdinand’s.
However, the one thing you can’t get anywhere else is Cougar Gold Cheese Curds. Now no one can really understand our obsession with Cougar Gold Cheese. It’s a local thing but they sell the cheese all over the state and ship it all over the nation. There are people who spend a lot of money for this. I won’t go into too many details because I encourage you to read about it at their site (because this is a post about Poutine not Cougar Gold). Cougar Gold is a sharp white cheddar that we used to refer to as the stinky foot cheese when we were kids. It started our exploration of real cheeses and I have to tell you that there is not a one of us that wouldn’t give up all other cheeses before we gave up Cougar Gold.
The cheese curds come in fresh and aged. The aged ones are sharp but the fresh ones squeak amongst your teeth like you are chewing on plastic. You’d think that would be unappealing but when you add a salty creamy taste it makes you smile as you chew.
I picked up a single bag of fresh curds and hid them so I could make Poutine. I will admit I made the mistake of taking the curds out of the fridge before the fries were fully cooked because half the bag disappeared before I was ready for them. (And no it wasn’t all me.)
I just bought ordinary, every day french fries. I think, however, these would be more amazing if I had made home fries but who wants to go through all that trouble for an experiment. When the fries were perfectly cooked, I topped them with the cheese curds, which now only covered half the fries.
I’m never without a solution so I dug out a good scoop of lemon cheese and added a good deal of seasoning salt. It was hard not to eat that while I was adding it to the fries. I do admit that I used my hands to apply clumps of lemon cheese to the steamy fries. How else was I going to find a good excuse to lick salty creamy goodness off my fingers (I do always wash quite well before handling food so they were clean fingers). I may have offered a finger or two to my husband.
I broiled the cheese covered fries to get the cheese all melty and then served them with homemade brown gravy. Now the gravy did not come out perfect. I got part way through the sauce when I discovered we had no beef bouillon. Not one to quit when I am this far, I dashed in Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce to give it that meaty, beefy flavor. The result was a good substitute for beef gravy.
We ate the Poutine for dinner with something else that I can’t remember but I could eat it with my hands. In fact this picture was taken as I had just settled onto the couch with my dinner. It was family movie night and I had forgotten to take a picture so I held my main dish in my left hand while I took the picture with my right. We ate our fill and there was still enough for me to take to work for lunch. I think this is one we’ll be doing again and again.
Brown Gravy (see below)
Cook fries according to package directions. When crisp, cover with cheese curds and broil until cheese is melted. Dish fries onto plate and cover with brown gravy. Eat until you burst.
1/4 cup butter or oil
1/4 cup flour (AP or other soft flour)
2-4 cups milk
1-2 teaspoons beef bouillon
Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and whisk until the flour is smooth and the butter is absorbed. Add milk about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking smooth between additions until the gravy is a desirable consistency. Add beef bouillon, to taste, and whisk until smooth. If gets too thick, add 1/4 cup of milk until smooth. Gravy will thicken more as it cools.