Poutine is Canada’s, and specifically, Québec’s, culinary gift to the world. Those enterprising Québeckers were not content to put mere ketchup on their french fries. No, they had to smother them with beef gravy and top them with cheese curds. The result–Mon Dieu! As with most culinary marvels, the variations of poutine are myriad. You can add any number of foods to the basic recipe, from bacon to lobster. My version is made with baked, or oven-fried, potato slices rather than deep fried, not as good nor as authentic, but less work and less mess. By all means make deep-fried french fries if such cooking is part of your repertoire. The subs for cheese curds are mozzarella (not fresh) and haloumi, a greek cheese that is fried before serving as it holds its shape when heated.

Oven Fries (2 versions)

Version 1:
4 medium (Russet) potatoes
1 T vegetable oil
2 1/2 t paprika
3/4 t salt
3/4 t garlic powder, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice potatoes into thin wedges. Place in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and gently toss to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet, spreading them out so they don’t touch. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until tender, turning once.

Version 2:
4 medium (Russet) potatoes
2 T or so vegetable oil
salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Puncture whole potatoes with a knife or fork. Wrap in foil and bake for about 40 minutes, until tender. Unwrap and allow to cool. Cut each potato into wedges and place on a baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden and slightly crispy, 10 – 12 minutes.

Gravy:
3 T butter or oil
3 T all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t dried thyme or other dried herb (for fresh herb, use 1 T)
2 T Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce or hoisin sauce
3 c beef or chicken broth or vegetable stock (go with mushroom stock if you can)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Melt butter or heat oil in a saucepan. Add flour to pan and stir to incorporate and make a roux. Stir constantly for 4 – 6 minutes, until the flour has browned and is fragrant. Add garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and cook until nearly evaporated, about a minute longer. Add broth or stock along with some salt and pepper (if using store-bought broth or stock, check the salt content). Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the gravy has reduced some, about 20 minutes. Keep warm until ready to use.

Assembly:

Place fries on individual serving plates. Pour gravy over and top with cheese curds.

Bon Appétit!