It’s a sunny Sunday in Ontario, and like everyone else I’m stuck at home during this COVID thing. I haven’t made sourdough bread or baked much of anything else, although many have. I’ve tried a few new recipes for dinner, but that’s about it.
Today, though, I had a craving for really good fries. And gravy. And, just for fun, yummy melty cheese.
For those not acquainted with this divine meal combination, POUTINE (poo-TEEN, or Quebec French put͡sɪn) includes french fries and cheese curds, topped with a brown gravy. It originated in the Canadian province of Quebec and for many years was perceived negatively and mocked. Poutine later became celebrated as a symbol of Québécois cultural pride. This led to its popularity outside the province, especially in Ontario and the Maritimes (Thank you, Wikipedia.)
The problem is, if you order this heavenly combo these days, it has to be take-out. Poutine doesn’t fare well being driven home in a box. And nuking the cold, gooey mess when you get there is just wrong. So, with that in mind, I started scrolling through recipes and hit on a couple of winners. For the first time ever I made poutine at home.
The recipes for fries and gravy follow. Once they’re been prepared, layer the hot fries and cheese, and then pour gravy over top.
(“Authentic Canadian Poutine” from Seasonsandsuppers.ca)
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
20 oz beef broth (I measured water and then added beef Bovril/OXO for a full-bodied taste)
10 oz chicken broth (ditto to above with chicken Bovril/OXO)
Pepper, to taste (don’t skip the pepper)
- 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 the cornstarch mixture and simmer for a minute or so. Season with pepper.
- Keep warm while you bake the potatoes.
This gravy would be excellent over meatloaf or on an open-face hamburger.
- 2 pounds Russet potatoes (6 smallish or 4 medium), scrubbed clean (I didn’t peel mine)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder, optional
- 2 teaspoons onion powder, optional
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- Cut each potato in half lengthways, then in half lengthways again to make quarters, and then cut each half in half lengthways on the diagonal to make two wedges (you’ll end up with 8 wedges per potato; make sure they are about the same thickness and size).
- Place the sliced potatoes into a large bowl and cover them with hot tap water. Let them soak for 10 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and lightly pat them dry with a lint-free tea towel.
- Place the potato wedges in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the garlic powder, onion powder (if using), salt and a generous amount of pepper on top and work oil and spices into the potatoes with hands.
- Arrange potatoes in even columns across the pan so each wedge has a cut side against the pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, but keep an eye on them for doneness. Then flip the wedges over (use a spatula and you should be able to flip several at a time). Arrange them in an even layer and return the pan to the oven.
- Bake until the wedges are deeply golden, crisp and easily pierced through by a fork, about 25 to 30 more minutes.
- Sprinkle with parsley, if desired, and serve while hot.