Poutine: When did a Hangover Cure get to be so Yummy?

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Canada sure is the birthplace of numerous ground-breaking inventions with medicinal insulin and basketball being probably amongst the most popular. However, I bet few of you are aware of yet another cutting-edge Canadian invention. And since we are all passionate foodies here, this one revolves around food (you don't say!).

In this piece, we are going to talk about poutine, Canada's most controversial yet favorite hangover food. Despite the fact that this dish contains all the right things (fries, gravy, and cheese), poutine often strikes off as one of the grossest things you can eat. Personally, I love this dish as much as I hate it because it is too fatty and stuffing at the same time.

But, let's dive in a little deeper into the whole poutine philosophy. Who knows? Maybe, it will grow on you.

Poutine Origin

Poutine was born in rural Quebec in 1957. Reputedly, this dish came to life when a restaurant patron asked from the restauranteur to sprinkle cheese curds on top of his fries. However, the restauranteur was not fond of this idea since he started yelling: "ça va faire une maudite poutine! ". That's French for: "It will make a damn mess!". But, this was just the beginning.

Later on, poutine was enriched by adding gravy into the mix. Rumor has it that someone (culinary genius or just a taste weirdo?) topped the cheesy fries with gravy to keep them warm for longer. But, no matter the reason, this addition was well appreciated by most Canadians since after this a reign of fame and glory started out for poutine.

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As a result, poutine has turned into Canada's iconic dish from scratch and is slowly taking over the entire country's dining establishments, from small roadside diners and street food trucks to Michelin-awarded restaurants. So, who knows what's next for this emblematic dish?

The Main Ingredients

Poutine may seem like a simple plate of cheesy fries dipped in brown gravy, but if done well it can be a tidbit straight out of a restaurant menu. That said, you need to keep in mind that poutine is a controversial dish since its success depends solely on the preparation. As a result, you may run into a poutine version that is simply amazing, and you can't stop eating or discouragingly greasy when a second bite would be too much.

The French Fries

If you want to nail your next poutine-making attempt, there is just one thing that you need to keep in mind. Fries need to be uber-crispy. Why? Well, they need to remain crunchy even after the gravy hits. You are probably wondering how you can achieve that. The answer is actually quite simple. Firstly, you need to choose the right potato, the one that when cooked is crunchy on the outside and pillowy on the inside. Secondly, you need to double-fry your fries. To double-fry foods, you first cook them at low temperature to soften them and then you increase the temperature at ultra-hot to get their crisp on.

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On a side note: Always make sure you drain the fries of the extra oil by laying them on a paper towel before mixing them with the rest of the ingredients. This additional moisture can ruin poutine texture within minutes.

Pro Tip 1: Try rinsing the sliced potatoes before you fry them. Non-rinsed fries tend to turn brown faster due to their starchy coating. As a result, they don't soften enough on the inside.

Pro Tip 2: When double-frying, using a deep fryer is actually much better than using a regular frying pan. The temperature switch is quicker and smoother, and foods don't get soggy. Fry Daddy is my cup of tea and delivers every single time to my crunchy fried food needs.

The Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are somewhat the easiest and most challenging part of this 3-ingredient Canadian dish. All you need to do is find a great place that sells fresh cheese curds and buy them. It's as simple as that. However, many shall disagree that finding decent cheese curds is nowhere near simple outside of Canada. Well, that's partly right, and this makes it challenging. But, you can always pay a visit to a nearby farmer's market and/or local artisan cheese shop or even make some on your own.

Now, to make the best poutine you've ever tasted you need to pay attention to the following tips. For starters, cheese curds need to be somewhat spongy and soft. At the same time, fresh cheese curds squeak and have a rubbery texture. The squeaky sound and rubbery feeling against your teeth is a definite sign of freshness. So, if cheese curds don't squeak, know that they are past their prime. Also, the ideal cheese curds for poutine have a mild tangy taste.

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The Gravy

The Canadian tradition has it that poutine gravy needs to be light and soft to coat fries perfectly without being too greasy and overwhelming. That is why most poutine gravy recipes suggest a combination of beef and chicken stock. However, if you are a fan of thick gravy, I suggest you go for it. But, just make sure it is not too thick to coat your fries.

Fun and Playful Poutine Variations

While the mainstream Canadian version of poutine is enough to knock my socks off, I have come across several other mouth-watering takes on this dish that have also dazzled me (to say the least). That is why I'd like to share them with you.

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1. Poutine Hotdog

What happens when one of your favorite street food treats gets married to one of your favorite hangover foods? CHAOS! The right kind, though. That is probably the idea behind this hybrid who has everyone craving for a bite.

2. Sweet Potato Poutine

This version is ideal for those who want to make their poutine taste not as "food-trucky". Sweet potatoes are bound to turn your dish into a more sophisticated and healthier food choice. At the same time, the fries sweet taste combines harmonically with the strong-flavored gravy skyrocketing this dish even more.

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3. Poutine Pizza

Another unbelievable combination that knows how to create a buzz around it. Some of you will probably wonder: "How can you plate poutine on a pizza crust?" Well, you can and according to common belief, this hybrid recipe is pure genius.

4. Candy Poutine (Kit-Kat "Fries" With Grenache Caramel And Marshmallows)

Now, I haven't tasted this poutine version myself. However, I had to include it in this list because... Well, it's candy poutine! Who wouldn't? Epic Meal Time is a YouTube cooking show where candy poutine was first introduced. The show's cooks deep-fried Kit-Kat bars and topped them with Grenache caramel sauce and marshmallows. Interested, anyone?

How To Make Candy Poutine a La` Epic Meal Time

© 2016 Kyriaki Chatzi

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Comments 6 comments

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA

Yikes! My curiosity in this dish is up and I think my cholesterol is too just from thinking about it! I can imagine a bunch of hung over Canadians munching on this, A? We all have some very strange food combinations that people from outside regions would find unusual. Thank you for sharing this one. If I ever visit Canada again, I'm going to make it my mission to try this. Sharing.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 7 weeks ago from Home Sweet Home

i love french fries, I make them on my own, although you can buy a bag of fries in the supermarket.

Great hub

Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

Kyriaki Chatzi 7 weeks ago from Greece Author

@Flourish, I used to believe the exact thing! How can they eat such stuff? What, they serve grease now? But, after I made my own (lighter) version, I realized that it's not so bad. Thank you very much for commenting, Flourish.

@peachpurple, Who doesn't love fries? They are the ultimate comfort food, no doubt. Thanks for your kind comment!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 weeks ago from The Caribbean

I certainly want to try both the regular and the potato poutine. But wouldn't it help to serve the poutine in smaller portions (just in case the new taster doesn't like it? Thanks for the introduction to this Canadian creation.

Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

Kyriaki Chatzi 7 weeks ago from Greece Author

@MsDora, It would sure do. That's actually a really good idea.

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 5 weeks ago from Peru, South America

I tried poutine on a trip to Vancouver. It was delicious and very rich. I never thought about making poutine at home. I like the idea of making it with sweet potato fries, a little lower on the glycemic index. Thank you for sharing!

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