I wrote a post last week based on a Facebook thread that went, well, bad, and it set me to thinking that what is normally considered a junkie dish could, in fact, be made the whole food way.
Poutine is considered a Quebec staple. I for sure wouldn't go so far as to call it a delicacy because there's nothing delicate about it. But it sure is tasty! If you've never heard of it, think gravy fries but with melted cheese curds. There are variations on the theme, including the addition of a bolognese sauce, but for the purposes of this experiment, the straight up version was my goal.
Poutine requires three components - fries, gravy and cheese curds. If you head over to La Belle Provence your fries will be deep fried in rancid industrial oils, your gravy will come from a mix and your cheese curds will be...actually, that's the only part that won't change. They'll still be fresh cheese curds. Basically you're looking at indigestion in a disposable bowl in the short term, and all kinds of fun stuff in the long term. Why risk your health when it's SO easy to make with real, whole and fresh ingreidents?
My version features oven-roasted fries in freshly rendered duck fat, gluten-free homemade chicken gravy from my own drippings and bone broth, and...fresh cheese curds.
1. Homemade Gravy
1/2 cup drippings from a roasted chicken. If you leave these in the fridge, the fat and liquids will separate, but when heated they'll mix back up nicely.
3 tbsp brown rice flour (or all-purpose flour if you're not picky or gluten-free)
2 cups of homemade chicken stock.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Savoury herbs to taste.
Melt the drippings in a pot and stir in the flour until dissolved. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper and savoury, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 20 minutes until the gravy is thickened and reduced. Season to taste.
2. Oven-Roasted Duck Fat Fries
2 globs of rendered duck fat (I happened to have roasted a duck and so rendered my own fat, but you can also purchase it already rendered).
6 - 8 medium sized russet potatoes (or any other potato that roasts well in the oven)
2 tsp of sea salt, or to taste
Preheat over to 350°. Scrub potatoes to rid them of all dirt but don't peel. Julien the potatoes so that they are thin but not so thin that they become only crispy when roasted. You still want some body to them. Soak the potatoes in cold, salted water for five minutes and then drain and rinse.
Transfer globs of duck fat to a roasting pan or cookie sheet and pop the pan in the oven for five minutes, or until fat is all liquid. Spread the dried julienned potatoes evenly across the pan and then toss lightly to coat with the melted fat. Sprinkle liberally with the sea salt, and then toss again.
Place pan in oven on a middle rack and set the timer of 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, toss using a spatula. Put the pan back in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes, and then toss again. Repeat the exercise every 10 minutes for approximately 40 minutes, or until the fries are cooked through but crisp on the outside.
3. Fresh cheese curds, one 250g package. Now, we used the cheddar curds and I'm wondering if they would have melted better had they been mozarella.
4. Assemble as follows - Put the fries in a large bowl. Sprinkle the cheese curds over the top. You may not want to use all 250g. Use your judgement. Lastly, ladle piping hot gravy over top. Let sit three minutes so the cheese can soften. ENJOY!
(Note - because we may have used the wrong kind of curds, our cheese did not melt. It may also have been that because the fries were not fried, they weren't super hot. So you may want to put the entire arrangement briefly under the broiler to inspire some meltage in the cheese!)