During the summer Josh and I spent in Detroit, poutine was a staple. A Canadian friend told me all about them and when we spotted them on a menu at a burger joint, we couldn’t resist giving them a try and were hooked with just one bite. Thankfully since Detroit is so close to Canada, you could find it everywhere and every time we visited a new restaurant we would scour the menu in search of our beloved fries, gravy, and cheese curds.
Now back in Utah, we’ve had to suffer through life without poutine every weekend (though our waistlines thank us). Occasionally our local poutine food truck will make an appearance and if we’re okay with the very subpar version, some pubs serve up poutine made with mozzarella and bland gravy. How we’ve missed our favorite Canadian comfort food.
So when we learned to make incredible beef gravy in culinary school, I got the bright idea that I could practice by making poutine at home. Don’t tell my instructor that I used our fancy “veloute” over french fries and cheese. Or that the day I learned how to make hollandaise sauce and braised artichokes I got Chick-Fil-A after class. Moving on.
A few tips and general information before getting into the yummy details:
1. Mozzarella cheese is not at all the same as cheese curds. I tried making poutine while we were still living in Detroit (the addiction was serious) and a recipe told me that if I can’t find cheese curds, shredded mozzarella works just fine! It doesn’t. It’s not at all the same. Now that isn’t to say you can’t use it if you’re desperate and really truly can not for the life of you find cheese curds, but I promise that hunting around for some good Wisconsin cheese curds will be worth it. I’d almost venture to say that if you can’t find cheese curds, you have no business making poutine. And since I could find Wisconsin cheese curds here in Utah (at a regular old grocery store) you can find it too. Do some searching. Make some calls. Totally worth it.
2. Don’t use crappy beef gravy. I’m here to tell you how to make good beef gravy, so don’t insult me by buying an “add water and heat” packet from the store. You want a good beefy flavor and the chance to spice and flavor it how you’d like. It’s not hard so don’t be lazy.
3. Quality french fries are key. If you’re like me and don’t like frying things in your home kitchen, send your husband out to get your favorite french fries when your gravy is almost done, depending on how close your favorite fries are. Our fries of choice here in Salt Lake City are from Moochies (and while you’re there, get the fried raviolis to munch on while you finish up your gravy). Just make sure those suckers are hot. Cold fries will ruin your poutine. Microwaved fries will also ruin your poutine. If you’re brave and would like to heat up a pot of oil, be my guest! Just make sure your fries are wonderful (no freezer fries) and hot when served.