I’ve got a cold and I am not. excited. about it. I am excited about this Easy Homemade Poutine recipe, though!
Poutine is a Canadian dish, and as you might expect from Canadian food, it’s hearty and warm, just what you need in a country that is mostly snow. I thought it would be more complicated, but in reality, poutine comes down to fries, gravy, and cheese. And it starts with the French fries.
In Pursuit of the Perfect French Fry
I’m honing my perfect French fry recipe. I say hon”ing” and not “have honed” because what’s below is pretty good, but it’s not quite the holy grail of fries.
There are a couple of issues with French fries. One is that people have different ideas of what a “perfect” fry is (I’m not saying that liking them other than thin and crispy is wrong, but…). The other, of course, is how much oil they soak up, especially as many recipes concur that the “best” fries are fried twice.
If you prefer a healthier option, I suggest baking. If you really don’t want to fry them and aren’t as crazy about texture as I am, this is a simple answer and easy to execute. Bake ’em with olive oil at 400F for 30+ minutes, turning once or twice, until they’re the color you want.
I’ve been making “bakes” for a while now. In testing this poutine recipe, I tried the double-frying method, along with presoaking the starch off. I will say this: it wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn good.
The reason the some fries are cooked twice is because potatoes are so dense that it takes a long time for heat to penetrate them. You can help the potatoes along by parcooking them one of the following ways:
- submerge in a pot of water. turn heat on high and cook for 10 minutes (the water doesn’t have to boil). optional: Add a couple tablespoons of white vinegar to enhance crunch
- bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees
- fry for 5 minutes at 300 degrees
You can also soak some of the starch right off the potatoes. Starch is chewy, so we want to rinse that off. Place the potatoes in a big bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse potatoes with fresh water. Repeat 3 times (a total of 45 minutes). (The lazy-and-or-overprepared way to do this is to soak them for 24 hours, no rinsing.)
Easy Homemade Poutine
It’s a little scary how easy this dish is. You could even, if you aren’t up for making your own fries, do it with frozen ones. After your chosen prep, it’s one quick fry (or bake) for the potatoes on one side of the stove and a simple homemade gravy on the other.
Gravy: Fat (I like butter), flour, broth (veggie broth for a vegetarian meal!). Spice up with black pepper and Worcestershire.
Layer these into bowls with cheddar cheese curds (a recent, happy discovery for me) and top with fresh herbs or scallions. If you have leftover pot roast to shred on top, you have perfection.
Adapted from these excellent resources:
Soaking: Perfect French Fries from the Food Network
Boiling: Smitten Kitchen’s Oven Fries
6-8 medium potatoes (I like gold), sliced into matchsticks about 1/4" thick
Peanut or other frying oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced (or equivalent amount of onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
2 cups cheddar cheese curds
Garnish: Scallions, chives, or other fresh herbs, over-medium fried egg
Place cut potatoes into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to sit at least 1 hour (up to 24). Change the water a couple of times if you want them REALLY crispy.
If you don't have the time to soak them for 24 hours, parcook them: bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees; cook in water over high heat for 10 minutes (they don't need to boil); or fry them for 5 minutes at 300 degrees.
After they are parcooked or thoroughly de-starched, line a baking sheet or big plate with two layers of paper towels.
Drain potatoes and dry with paper towels. Heat 1-2 inches of peanut or other frying oil to 400F. Fry the potatoes in batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain and place on more paper towels; season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Optional: If ultra-crispiness is desired, allow fries to cool before seasoning and fry again.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute shallot and garlic until softening, about 3 minutes.
Add butter. When it melts, whisk in flour until browned, about a minute.
Add chicken and beef stock, vinegar, Worcestershire, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer just until gravy starts to reduce; remove from heat. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
In each bowl, spread a thin layer of gravy. Add thin layers of fries, cheese curds, and gravy until the bowl is full (or the serving size gets ridiculous). Smother with additional gravy and top with fresh herbs.