(about 3 servings)
These days poutine is more readily available across Canada. When I was younger, it was difficult to find outside of Québec. I first encountered it in my early 20's on a trip to Montréal. It was love at first bite. I recall the stares followed by laughter whenever I ordered it because I would ask for, "Une ´poo-teen`, s'il vous plaît".
Essentially poutine is a serving of (deep fried) french fries sprinkled with fresh cheese curds and then covered with gravy. The gravy often appears to be thick and enhanced with Bisto (my mum returned with two boxes of the stuff the last time we visited Vancouver Island). It all depends on where, and who is making it. Nevertheless, poutine always seems to taste better in Québec.
Recently I visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory in northern Oregon. I brought back a bag of cheese curds which were delicious, although they didn't "squeak" like the ones in Canada do.
gravy (about 1 cup)
1 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp Organic Better Than Bouillon Low Sodium Beef Base
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
a few grinds of black pepper
1 pinch dried thyme
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 tbsp (add a tsp or two more if you prefer a thicker gravy) all purpose unbleached flour
Place a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter begins to froth, stir in the onions, then lower the heat a touch. Cook,stirring from time to time for about 30 minutes or until the onions are an even medium brown.
Stir in the water, beef base, vinegar, black pepper, and thyme. Simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes.
Strain the gravy though a sieve and press as much of the soft onion through as possible. Set aside. (You'll add the wine and flour later).
1 1/4 lb potatoes, cut into 1/3 inch thick matchsticks (russets will be somewhat crispier; I used Yukon golds)
1 tbsp olive oil
a few grinds of pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and allow to sit for about 8-10 minutes. Dry the potatoes with a towel as best you can.
Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Toss until they are evenly coated.
Place the potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper for easier cleanup).
Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until they have browned nicely.
2/3 cup cheese curds
Before you remove the potatoes from the oven, whisk together the red wine and flour. Add this to the gravy and set over medium heat.
Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Remove the "fries" from the oven when done and place into a pasta type dish. Sprinkle the cheese curds evenly over the fries and then pour the gravy over both. Serve immediately.