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Everything you need to know about poutine

Updated on October 20, 2011

Everything you need to know about poutine

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...JawnFC's thoughts about the greatest meal on this planet: Poutine.

Introduction of the poutine

Hello food world! I really want to share one of the greatest findings that I have ever made with you. It is a type of food that I stumbled upon when I was about 10 years old. It all happened when some of my friends and I decided to escape the school yard during one of our lunch recesses. We wanted to go and grab something to eat from the local french fry shop. Before that day, I used to just order your typical gravy fries. Nothing more, nothing less. But on that day, one of my friends asked if I was going to order a Poutine. "A poutine?", I said. "What the hell is that?" My friend said I would really like it. Convinced by his amazing attempt to persuade me, I bought one. It came to me in a paper box with a wooden fork protruding from one of the french fries. Hungry, I immediately put the food into my mouth not worrying about whether or not it was going to taste good. In that very second--the very instance it touched my tongue, I fell in love with this thing called, "Poutine". I didn't understand how it was doing it, but I know that meal put a smile on my face. To this very day--a million years later, I am still a huge fan of eating poutine. I believe it is my job to show the world about the magic poutine has within each and ever bite.

How to pronounce poutine?

It is kind of confusing how to pronounce poutine. It is similar to the situation of how you would try to say tomato. No one knows. It is really up to the person saying it. Anyway, some people say that you should say the word poutine like this: poo-teen. But others would laugh at you or get really pissed off at your ignorance and tell you that you should say poutine like this: puh-tin. The second way of to pronounce poutine is the one that I use. Again, you can't really have a finite way of saying a word since there are so many different accents in the world. But there is one thing for sure and that is whether it is "poo-teen" or "puh-tin", it is still frikin' delicious.

What is a poutine?

Now to describe a poutine to you... Well, it is the greatest food that has ever been made on this planet. The end. I wish it were that simple. Now for the complicated answer. The translation of the french slang word poutine comes out to be, "Mess". So, a poutine is the glorious mixture, or MESS, of hand-cut french fries, cheese curds and the thickest, tastiest, gravy you will ever let your tongue touch. That is the essence of the poutine. If you haven't heard about this type of mixture before, it can sound really alien, maybe gross. But tell you, it is not. You may ask, why would you mix those ingredients together like that? Because each ingredient compliments each other in a way that creates a flavour rush to the brain. Think about it, those hand-cut french fries have been, deep fried to crispy perfection and then salted to the degree that will make your mouth wanting more. To be more descriptive here, think about the best stand alone french fries you ever had and increase its greatness by ten times. That is why I think the best french fries are that of which are inside a poutine. Also, the poutine gravy is the excellent partner to those french fries because they contrast the crispiness and morph the flavour away from just the plain-old taste of salt. Think about all the different types of gravy that are available. Now think about how delicious a particular gravy would be if it were all over your poutine french fries. Flavour mixing to tongue excitement! And last, but not least, there are the cheese curds part of the poutine. Those cheese curds act as the element that forges the poutine fries and gravy together, like an adhesive, and increases the flavour with its own squishy, melt-y, salty, goodness. See there is more flavour! So, put those three parts of the poutine, french fries, poutine gravy and cheese curds, on to a fork and you will taste heaven in your mouth. This is a poutine and why I think it is so good! If you haven't tried a poutine yet, STOP READING AND GO BUY OR MAKE ONE NOW!!!

Poutine history...

There is always the question about poutine history. Well, there are many claims of the original birthplace of the poutine. Like how it came about in the 1950s from somewhere in Quebec, Canada. People say it came from one person in Quebec and then, this other guy... I even heard my Grandma say that she invented the poutine. So, who do you believe invented the poutine. Poutine history is too skewed for a straight answer. Origin or origin unknown, the poutine was born on that day I found out about it at the fry shop when I was 10 years old. HA.

How to make poutine

Poutine Poll

Do you think poutine should be consumed everyday?

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How to deep fry french fries

Poutine fries

Finally, it is time to make the most awesome-est meal in the world: poutine. But that awesome-est meal must have some substance, some "umph", that will fill you up. Luckily this meal consist primarily of the ever so crispy and golden poutine french fries. Without poutine french fries, your poutine would just be a lonely stew that holds nothing but poutine cheese curds and poutine gravy. Do you want that cheese gravy stew? I know I don't. That does not sound appetizing. Therefore, if you are interested in making such a beautiful poutine for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, you should really get know how to make poutine french fries properly. If you don't gain this knowledge, you may find yourself using burned potatoes or under-cooked potatoes, which may compromise your poutine. So, in this section we will talk about the different issues that you may face when trying to cook poutine french fries. But first...

What are poutine french fries?

Let me tell you everything I know about poutine fries. Well, they were once potatoes... But they were not your ordinary potatoes. They were those potatoes that decided to make a difference in the world. And the difference was shown by considering to be sliced and diced into potato strands. Then those strands of potato were convinced that they should take a giant leap into a deep fryer. That's right these, now poutine fries, are deep fried to crispy perfection. And that is the only way, in my opinion, that you should eat your poutine fries. If they are soggy, oil absorbing, pieces of french fry, then your whole poutine will be one watery mess. Your poutine gravy and poutine cheese curds are already squishy enough. Why have more squish? But if you have those perfect, crispy poutine fries, you will have the contrast needed to have the true poutine experience.

Teach me how to make homemade french fries. What is the best homemade french fries recipe? And don't be stingy, GIMME THE BEST FRENCH FRY RECIPE!!!

Okay! Settle down. I don't know if this is the best recipe to make poutine french fries, but it is the one that I know how to make well and have been using for most of my poutine career. It is a fairly simple poutine french fry recipe, so I think you might like the outcome. Enjoy!

This is what you will need to make your very own homemade french fries:

  • 1 Cooking pot
  • 1 Large bowl
  • 1 Chef's knife
  • 1 peeler (optional)
  • 6 pieces of paper towel
  • 4 cups of vegetable oil
  • 5 potatoes
  • 1 tsp of salt

The instructions on how to make homemade french fries:

First, take your cooking pot and place it on the burner. You then want to take your 4 cups of vegetable oil and pour it into the cooking pot. Now turn your burner on to high. The idea is to get your vegetable oil to a temperature of 350 to 375 degrees. There is a reason for cooking at that temperature. Any cooking temperature higher than that will make what ever you cook most likely burn to a crisp. And if you decide to cook at a lower temperature, you are risking what ever you are cooking to absorb the oil into itself. Therefore, 350 to 375 degrees will eliminate both those problems. You can call it the perfect cooking temperature for deep frying. Okay while the oil is heating up to the perfect cooking temperature for deep frying, take your potatoes and prepare them for cutting. Give them a good scrub under running water to clean off any dirt that they may have on them. An optional step would be to peel them. However, I like to keep the skin of my french fries. So once they have been clean and peeled, take your chef's knife and cut them into french fries. Now take your uncooked french fries and throw them into the vegetable oil. Cook your poutine fries until they are golden brown. That is usually anywhere from 1-2 minutes of being in the oil. Then take your cooked french fries and place them into that large bowl that should be layered with your paper towel. This is to absorb any of the cooking oil that has been leftover on the french fries. Repeat this cooking process until all your uncooked french fries have been cooked. Once you have cooked all the potatoes, get rid of the paper towel that lined your large bowl. Take your salt and add it to your poutine french fries. Give it a toss and you should be done. At this point, it is optional, but you can add some french fry seasoning to give your fries a little kick. But remember that poutines usually do not use french fry seasoning. Again, it is up to you to experiment. Anyway, that is how to make homemade french fries for your own poutine.

A little insight on the cheese making process

Poutine cheese

I hope you are ready to widen the scope of your knowledge when it comes to art of making poutine. We are about to cover a very lovely topic that without any know-how, could mess-up your attempt to making a really tasty poutine meal. I am talking about the cheese for poutine. Without cheese for poutine, you would only have gravy fries. Personally, I would rather have gravy fries over cheesy fries any-day. But still, gravy fries are not ever on the level of the worst poutine. Nevertheless, I don't think a really bad poutine can exist, but you never know. I will now assist your mind to dabble in the area of poutine cheese. Therefore, some questions about poutine cheese curds should be answered, like...

What is poutine cheese?

WHAT IS POUTINE CHEESE!? Poutine cheese is what makes the whole poutine work together. To be more specific, poutine cheese is actually the adhesive for the gravy fries. It takes those individual french fries and makes them stick together so you can get several crispy gravy fries in one swoop of the fork. Once upon a time that poutine gravy was sad and alone, but the poutine cheese acted as the middle-man that convinced the gravy to think about trying to have a happy life with those crispy fries. And I tell you, that is one happy life together. The poutine cheese makes the gravy hug those fries like it would lose something very valuable if it did otherwise. Depending on how you prepare your poutine, some of those poutine cheese elements melt and some don't. But because this happens, that poutine cheese actually create separate sensations in your mouth. On the one hand, your tongue may experience a nice warm gooey feeling from the poutine cheese that was not so lucky to survive and melted. But then your tongue would be blindsided with the tougher, squishier, texture from those pieces of cheese that did not get to experience a life of melting. Talking about verity from just poutine cheese. It is so exciting! And that is only the cheese part of the poutine!

Are you in? Do you want to know more about poutine cheese? Because I can go on about it all day! Here we go...

I really don't know what poutine cheese to use. What cheese should I use?

Well, there are many different types of cheese that could be a good candidate for the poutine cheese role. Most cheese melt like the others and does the job it should to the poutine gravy and golden crispy fries to make a decent poutine. I have to say the selection is vast. You could really use any type of cheese from mozzarella cheese to cheddar. I don't know if you would want to put blue cheese on your poutine, but you could try. Anyway, it is really up to you to select a poutine cheese for your poutine. You are dealing with your own taste-buds. Therefore, you should satisfy them with a poutine cheese that will make you happy.

However, there is a standard when it comes to selecting a cheese for your poutine. If you do not know it yet, get use to these two words: Cheese curds. That is right! Cheese curds are the standard when it comes to making poutine. Some people will not even consider your dish a poutine if it does not include poutine cheese curds. They will see your dish as merely, "cheese gravy fries". That doesn't have the word "Poutine" in it! It sounds gross. So maybe you should really get to know everything there is to know about poutine cheese curds.

What are cheese curds?

Let start with what are not cheese curds. Cheese curds are not formed by milk that has been left out on the counter too long and started to clump together. Yeah, you can say that those cheese clumps are "homemade cheese curds", but they are not the real deal to add to your poutine. If you add those sour milk homemade cheese curds to your poutine, you might get sick. Illnesses that have come from ingesting bad bacteria from spoiled milk are Tuberculosis, Polio and Strep throat to name a few. So, even though you might not get a disease to that extreme, please avoid using those accidentally homemade cheese curds as poutine cheese curds. Phew...intense.... Now that I have saved your life, let's see what are actual cheese curds.... The good cheese curds. THE POUTINE CHEESE CURDS!

Cheese curds ARE the solid clumps that are left behind from souring milk. Those clumps are then processed into its familiar cheese curd form. That's it. See, the cheese curds that you can eat do not actually come from sour milk, they come from souring milk. Souring milk is a way of cooking milk so that it can curdle. Yep. By contrast, sour milk is just spoiled milk that can make you ill because of all the lethal bacteria that are within the liquid. Therefore, know the difference between the two types of milk souring processes. That will be the difference between killer, awesome, cheese curds for poutine, versus killer, your dead, type of cheese curds for poutine. Read on for more details about the "how to" on making cheese curds from home.

I want to learn how to make cheese curds at home! Teach me how to make cheese curds at home now!

Okay, okay! I'm on it... So you are planing on making cheese curds at home. What do you do? Where do you start? First, let's get what you need to make homemade cheese curds.

What you need to make homemade cheese curds possible....:

  • 1 Pot
  • 1 Strainer
  • 2 Litres of Raw or Whole Milk
  • 3 Pieces of Cheesecloth
  • 1 String
  • 1/4 cup of Lemon juice or Vinegar
  • 1 tsp of Sea salt
  • A big Bowl
  • Slotted wooden spoon

The homemade cheese curds recipe:

Now that you have a big pile of poutine cheese curd making items in front of you, let's begin putting the pieces together to make some cheese curds. Yay! First, you take the pot and place the raw or whole milk inside. Place the pot on your stove and turn on the heat to about medium. You will be trying to cook the raw or whole milk until bubbles form inside the pot--mostly around the edges of the pot. Make sure you use that wooden slotted spoon to even out the heat of the milk. Now stir that milk! You DO NOT want to boil the milk, just heat it up until there are many bubbles inside the pot and there is a thin layer of milky skin that kind of sticks to your spoon. Okay.... Next, turn off the heat to let the milk settle down and cool off for a minute. Take the Lemon Juice or Vinegar and stir it into your warm milk. Now let that mixture settle. You should see the formation of curds which will start to separate from the whey. Cheese curds are the solid bits and the whey is the liquid that is left behind (which is apparently good for certain recipes, so you might want to hold on to it). Anyway, take your cheesecloth and layer the strainer, which should be over the big bowl. Make sure your bowl can handle the amount of liquid that is in your cheese curd and whey pot. Pour the cheese curds and whey into the cheesecloth to separate the curds from the whey. Salt those cheese curds and mix them around a little bit. Then wrap your curds up in the cheesecloth by taking the four corners of the cloth and bringing them to the centre. Twist the cheesecloth so that the cheese curds form a tight ball. Now take your string and tie up the cheesecloth so that it does not unravel. Let it drip for a bit in the strainer. Wait about 3-4 hours before you unwrap the ball of cheese curd. After that...voila! Rip apart that ball of cheese curd to make little bits to on top of your fries. That is the art of making cheese curds for your poutine. Simple enough...

What is the best milk to make homemade cheese curds?

That would be the milk that has more cultures living in it. So, I would have to say raw milk is the best milk to make cheese curds. But that is a debate by many homemade cheese curd makers around the world: Should you use raw or pasteurized milk? Anyway, I say it is really up to you to test out the difference. Both type of cheese end up giving a different flavour in the end. However, the original way of making homemade cheese curds is with raw milk. This is what is used to make, what some say are, the best cheese curds ever. If you can get your hands on some raw milk, dabble in that tradition! But again...that is a matter of opinion.

I don't want to make homemade cheese curds. Tell me where to buy cheese curds.

You have many options when you want to buy cheese curds from seller. First, you can go over to your local grocery store to pick some up. Look in the cheese-dairy section of the store. For me, the grocery stores in my area sell white and regular coloured cheddar cheese curds. The prices for curds can range anywhere from $4-6 CDN. But it differs in certain locations. Also, believe-it-or-not, you can buy cheese curds online. And you will find that there are many places to buy cheese curds online just by typing into your search engine "buy cheese curds online". So yeah, those were the main places where to buy cheese curds. I hope that helped you. But come on, try making homemade cheese curds. Come on! It's a great experience.

So those are my basic thought on poutine cheese curds. Maybe I cleared up some of the questions you have about the art of making cheese curds at home--or going out to buy them. After you get your hands on some, drown your poutine in a pile of that squishy white gold. I swear it will be so tasty.

Another way to make gravy...

Poutine gravy

You should know that a poutine would not be a poutine if it were not for one very important element: poutine gravy. Without the poutine gravy, those french fries that you have cleverly decided to mesh together with cheese would merely be, cheesy fries. Ewww! What the hell is that? If I were explaining how to make cheesy fries, I guess this would be the perfect time to stop writing this section. But I'm not! I'm teaching you all about the art of making poutine gravy here! So, focus and you may walk away with some great poutine knowledge.

What is poutine gravy?

What is poutine gravy!? If it was only me in the world, I would say that it is the life of any poutine. Poutine gravy, aka. the brown sauce from heaven, is the thing that makes the poutine so tasty. Poutine gravy, if prepared properly, should have been made with a homemade gravy recipe that allows for the eventual poutine to look like it has some type of thick sauce on it--think molasses. It is what boosts your poutine's flavour up 100 times from your average french fry meal. Poutine gravy actually gives those fries and cheese a nice, warm, cocoon to rest in, transform, then slowly emerge into an elegant fork full of poutine goodness. Therefore, it is important that you learn and master the art of how to make poutine gravy if you want to make and excellent poutine.

So, I may have tickled the part in your brain that wants to make gravy for poutine. Great! But you may not really be sure how to go about making gravy for poutine. Well, I want to answer a few common poutine gravy questions some newbie or amateur poutine artist would have when it comes to the thought, how do I make gravy? Here are those poutine questions and answers:

How do I make gravy for poutine?

You want to know how to make gravy for poutine? There are two ways how to make gravy. You could make gravy from scratch or you can buy and make gravy with poutine powdered gravy mix. Basically, the first way is more homemade gravy and the second way is the simple gravy. That is how to make gravy for poutine.

Should I use poutine gravy mix or make gravy from scratch?

Personally, I would make gravy from scratch. When it comes to your poutine situation, It really depends on how fast you want your poutine gravy to be made. If you really like to take your time with cooking the poutine, then I recommend that you go the homemade gravy route. But if you don't have the time to make gravy from scratch, your best bet is to buy the powdered gravy mix. Hey, you can't complain about a simple poutine made with a simple gravy. It would simply be, not right... It's still a poutine. And that is always right! Back on track, the point is it is really up to you if you want to make gravy from scratch or buy powdered gravy mix.

I decided that I don't want to make gravy from scratch, what poutine gravy mix should I use?

There are many different types of poutine gravy mix. And there are even more types of non poutine flavoured powdered gravy mix--try saying that ten times fast. Remember, poutine gravy is really just gravy. Isn't that amazing! So don't sweat it if you are making your poutine with just your average gravy mix. So, go out an buy your homemade gravy mix, brown gravy mix, chicken gravy mix, and even your chocolate gravy mix--wow, chocolate gravy! It doesn't matter what powdered gravy mix you use. Just make sure you have some kind of gravy to cover those potatoes and cheese curds. Don't forget to try different types of powdered gravy mix because you might find a gravy flavour that works well with your poutine. This may be an easy way to make gravy, but it also means you can try more types gravy mix in a shorter amount of time. I have to say that is pretty smart...a pretty smart poutine....

Anyway, if I go the powdered gravy mix route, my favourite gravy mix would have to be Swiss Chalet home-style gravy mix. All you do is take a pot, fill it up with two cups of water, bring to a boil, add your powdered gravy mix, stir to thicken gravy, let simmer and presto, you have poutine gravy. Ain't life great?

If I do not want to use poutine powdered gravy mix, how do I make gravy from scratch?

I'm all about the homemade gravy. Nothing is better than a good old poutine made with gravy from scratch. So good choice! The idea behind this method of making poutine gravy is pretty simple.

Here are the overall poutine gravy ingredients you will need when you are making gravy:

  • A pot
  • 2-4 cups of water
  • 1/2 lbs of meat or vegetables
  • 1-2 tsps of cornstarch or 1-2 tbsps of flour

That's it! That are all the poutine gravy ingredients you will use for this very simple gravy recipe.

First, you take your favourite type of meat, or vegetable if you are making a vegetarian poutine, and place it into a pot filled with a cup-or-two, or three, of water. Bring that to a boil. Let it boil for a while. Remember the longer you boil the meat, or vegetables, in the water, the more flavour your poutine gravy will have in the end. Next, remove the meat, or vegetables from the water that is now a broth and lower to medium heat. You will then need about a 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch or a table spoon of flour. Note that you are using the cornstarch or flour to thicken the gravy. So be careful, too much of any of those powders and you may have a poutine gravy cake--it happened to me. So, take either your flour or cornstarch into a bowl and slowly add water while mixing. You are looking to make a kind of thick milky water. The reason why you do not just add the flour or cornstarch directly into the broth is because you are avoiding lumpy gravy. If you like lumpy gravy, go ahead and just throw the flour or cornstarch into the broth. If not, take that thick milky water and add it to you broth and stir until the whole mix becomes thick. When it is at the thickness of your liking, take the pot off the heat and let cool. Wait a minute before serving. This is really the way you make any kind of gravy. Not just for poutine. Get to use to this method of making gravy from scratch and you will be a master of the art of poutine in no time.

I like my gravy really thick, what are some ways on how to thicken gravy?

You want to learn how to thicken gravy, eh? So you like your gravy thick? That is alright because I do too! All you have to do is add more flour or cornstarch to the mix. Like I said before, be careful because you do not want a poutine gravy cake. That is unless you want a poutine gravy cake....

What gravy recipe should I use for my poutine?

I say test out a different recipe for gravy anytime you make a new poutine. This way you will be able to narrow down on certain poutine gravy flavours to use for poutines you make in the near future.

I'm concerned about gravy nutrition. Is poutine gravy nutritional?

I would be concerned about gravy nutrition too because, let's face it, usually if it taste good, it is bad for you. However, there is some nutrition in poutine gravy. I'm not a doctor, maybe a doctor of poutine, but I am going by some common sense here. Think about the protein and carbohydrates you are getting from the meat or vegetables. I wouldn't recommend eating poutine gravy as your only diet--I really wish I could. When it comes to health and consumption, you need balance. So, I say eat everything in moderation. If you are consuming poutine gravy buy the pint, you might have to consider the health problems that could be associated with it. But other than all the negative aspects of gravy nutrition, you can get the most nutrition when you make gravy yourself. This way you know exactly what poutine gravy ingredients you are consuming; this way you know what is going on with your consumption and health.

How much poutine gravy should I put on my poutine?

I would recommend a lot. I know that is a bit subjective, so let me try a mental demonstration. Picture your poutine, well cheesy fries right now, but soon to be poutine. So, picture your soon to be a plate. You want to smother that plate with poutine gravy. So you are trying to cover those cheesy fries until you can only see a few fries and cheese curds on the edge of your plate. Sometimes I would take it to the limit and really drown those cheesy fires in poutine gravy. It would get to the point where you cannot even see anything but poutine gravy on the plate. ...I would have that with a pint of gravy on the side to wash down the meal. God, I love poutine...

I don't like poutine gravy. Is there a substitute?

No. Remember, I'm not talking about cheesy fries here. ...Okay. You can try putting... No. There is no substitute for poutine gravy.

This should answer a few questions about poutine gravy. Gravy making should always be simple gravy making. If you are struggling to make gravy from scratch, make it from a gravy mix. If you have trouble making it from a a friend to help you. If all else fail in your attempt to make poutine gravy, go buy a poutine from the a poutine restaurant. See, making gravy for poutine should be simple, but overall, it should be a fun process. Good luck to you with making poutine gravy.

That was a little bit of information about the great Canadian poutine! If you find this information useful, please link to this page. Thanks!


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