When it comes to street food in the world’s metropolises, New York has its Pizza, Berlin has its Currywurst, Tokyo its Takoyaki – and Montreal? Well, of course, that’s the Poutine! As you stroll through the city, you might wonder here and there what kind of weird stuff people have on their plates. But don’t let the looks fool you! There is a good reason why Poutine is such a popular dish today. And it is not just a phenomenon from the country’s second biggest city. What started in Quebec has by now basically turned into Canada’s national dish.
Poutine is as simple as it is delicious. The street food consists of a good serving of French fries, topped with cheese curds and hot, brown gravy. Traditionally, thickly cut potatoes are fried – sometimes even twice – to make for a crunchy texture with a soft inside. This is important so that the fries stay crispy and don’t get instantly soaked with the gravy. The cheese of choice is usually cheddar which doesn’t melt as easily and comes with a nice and chewy consistency.
Today, you will find this Canadian classic in pretty much any fast food joint across the vast country. Even McDonald’s and Burger King have it on their menus. But if you are looking for something more refined, hunt down one of the specialized Poutine restaurants. These so-called Poutineries take the basic concept to the next level. A huge variety of toppings for the most extraordinary combos are available including mushrooms, sauerkraut, pickles, onions, ground beef, pulled pork and many more. Of course, there you also don’t have to stick to the traditional brown gravy. Sauces like tomato, garlic, sour cream and others will satisfy each and every gobbler.
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What Does Poutine Even Mean?
Well, the name Poutine most probably stands for what most people, quite frankly, think of when they see the dish for the first time. Something between “mess” and “leftovers stew” which looks somewhat repulsive and extremely intriguing and delicious at the same time.
The first time somebody got to enjoy the messy deliciousness happened somewhere in rural Québec during the 1950s. The most common story took place in the small town of Warwick. According to the legend, Eddy Lainesse, regular at Le Café Ideal Fernand Lachance, asked for something that wasn’t actually on the menu – fries with a topping of sour cream and cheese curds. The owner’s reaction: „Ça va faire une maudite poutine“, French for “this will make a huge mess”. But back then, the gravy wasn’t even part of the initial combo. Apparently, it was only added later to keep the fries warm for longer.
Despite this popular myth, also other towns in the area such as Drummondville or Victoriaville claim to be the cradle of the popular street food. Whoever invented it in the end, the local specialty quickly came in favor of the masses and spread across all of Canada.
Now, if you are one of those who cannot wait to shove some Poutine in your mouth after reading this, we would of course suggest to go to Canada and get your dose of the unusual potpourri of ingredients. But since cravings don’t disappear when there is no time or travel budget at hand, we have posted a delicious recipe below to make your own at home. The recipe resembles a version served at one of our favorite Poutine joints in Montreal. We hope you will love it as much as we do!
1 pack French Fries (or 10 potatoes)
30 g starch
90 g butter
60 g flour
2 garlic cloves
550 ml beef stock
300 ml chicken stock
300 g cheddar
1-2 chicken breasts
For the gravy, dissolve the starch in 30 ml of water
Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes while stirring constantly until the color turns golden. Now add the finely chopped garlic
Now mix the roux with the starch and the beef and chicken stock. Let the gravy simmer for a couple of minutes in order for it to thicken. Finally, season with salt and pepper
If you have chosen ready-made fries, simply make them in the oven or a deep fryer according to the instructions on the packaging
For homemade fries, wash the potatoes and cut them into strips. You can decide for yourself how thick you want the fries to be. Heat up a good amount of oil in a large pot and fry the potatoes until they turn golden yellow. Take them out and drain on a paper towel
Cut the cheddar cheese into small cubes
Cut the chicken breast and chorizo into small, bite-sized pieces. Heat up some oil or butter in a pan and fry the meats for a couple of minutes until they are done and slightly browned
Finally, portion the fries onto large plates, pour a good serving of warm gravy over them and evenly distribute the cheese, chicken and chorizo
Nothing here yet – do you know of anything similar from other countries? Let us know!