fries? good. gravy? good. curds? good.

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In honour of La Poutine Week here in Toronto, I decided to dedicate a post to one of my favourite dishes.

Poutine (/pˈtn/French: [putin]Quebec French:[put͡sɪn] is a dish originating in QuebecCanada, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds.

To say I like poutine is an understatement.  i LOVE poutine. (I even served it as a late night snack at my wedding!)

Now, this dish is the furthest thing from healthy and is really a once-in-a-while delicacy.  So when you have it every once-in-a-while, make sure its a great one.

What makes a great poutine?  There are 4 key ingredients.

  1. Fries.  I like my poutine with a medium sized fry or even a potato wedge.  Something strong enough to stand up to the gravy and curds.  Nothing worse than broken fries swimming in a sad pool of gravy at the bottom of your dish.
  2. Gravy. This is where you can get creative.  Beef gravy? Chicken gravy? Veggie gravy?  So many options!  It can really change the taste of the dish.
  3. Curds*.  Delicious, squeaky, curds. If you want Quebecois authentic poutine, you have to go with the curd.
  4. Seasoning.  A poutine should have a good bite of salt to it.  You can also add pepper or other herbs/spices to really enhance the flavour.  I like a sea salt and a 5 peppercorn grind when i’m making it at home.

*Sometimes it can be hard to get a proper cheese curd.  Some grocery stores sell a mediocre curd, but there’s no squeak.  In Ontario, your best bet is St. Albert.  You can sometimes get lucky and find it here in Toronto, but for the most part, this is an Eastern Ontario product.   When you’re lucky enough to live in Quebec (or very close to it) you have a vast selection of curds to choose from.  Whenever I get the chance, I head to Gatineau to a store called La trappe à fromage. They have the best curds around, and sell them in bulk.  I can buy a large quantity, bring them home, portion them into bags and then freeze them until needed.

Here in Toronto there are several places to get the real deal poutine.  Here are some of my faves:

  • Lou Dawgs – While they have the classic version, my favourite is the Angry Loutine (fries, chicken gravy,  curds, bbq pulled pork, crispy onions, jalapeños, spicy mayo)
  • Smokes – Lots of different locations across the city (plus a truck at BMO field)  Their veggie-friendly mushroom gravy is delish!
  • Poutineville – a direct from Quebec chain that serves many variations on the classic.
  • Caplansky’s Deli – Fries, curds and a ridiculous smoked meat gravy.

What are your favourite poutine haunts?  Have you ever tried an outrageous poutine combination and lived to tell the tale?  Leave your recommendations and experiences in the comment section below.

Cheers to Canada’s dish!

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