Poutine, a dish of french fries mixed with fresh cheese curds and topped with hot gravy, ranks high among Canada's best-loved foods. Its discovery is a matter of debate, but as one story goes, poutine was born in 1957 in rural Quebec. In one of those eureka moments, Fernand Lachance, "le pere de la poutine" ("the father of poutine"), threw the ingredients together at a friend's suggestion.
These days, poutine is on the menu at Burger King, and Saveur magazine named it one of its 100 favorite foods of 2007.
Chef Anthony Walsh of Canoe Restaurant & Bar in Toronto, who offers the following recipe, has his own variations that always include the three basic elements of potatoes, curds and extraction of meat. One poutine features lobster and lobster bisque; another has a confit of lamb shoulder and long potato wedges; yet another features duck and bacon. He also does a breakfast poutine, including boiled eggs with big wads of cheddar and potatoes.
- 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup good-quality seasoned demi-glace (a rich sauce base; may substitute chicken gravy)
- 2 to 4 ounces crumbled sharp goat cheese, preferably Canadian
- 4 ounces warm duck confit, pulled apart (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.
Scrub the potatoes well and cut into 1/4-inch-thick batons. Toss them in a bowl with the garlic, thyme and oil; season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the potatoes once or twice to keep them from sticking, until they are crisp and nicely browned.
While the potatoes are roasting, bring the demi-glace to a boil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan, stirring constantly. Adjust seasonings to taste. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
Place the cheese, to taste, and the duck confit, if using, in a large bowl. Add the roasted potatoes and toss to combine. Divide among individual plates and drizzle with the warm demi-glace. Serve warm.
From chef Anthony Walsh of Canoe Restaurant & Bar in Toronto, Canada.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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