Recipe: Poutine

 

HISTORY OF POUTINE

There are many, unconfirmed claims to have invented the poutine, dating from the late 1950s through to the 1970s, in the Victoriaville area—about one hour outside of Montreal.

One thing is for certain: poutine was born in rural Quebec in the 1950s.

The most widespread story is that poutine originates from a restaurant called Le Lutin qui rit in Warwick, in the Arthabaska region. In 1957, a client named Eddy Lainesse purportedly asked the cook, Fernand Lachance, to mix the cheese curds with the fries.

Another story relates to a long-standing restaurant called Le Roy Jucep in Drummondville, Quebec. The story claims that in circa 1964, restaurant owner Jean-Paul Roy saw some of his customers putting cheese curds on their French fries and gravy; this gave him the idea of creating the mixture himself and offering it on the menu. Jean-Paul Roy is the first person to have served poutine as we know it today. Authentic Canadian poutine features deep-fried potatoes, gravy, and white cheddar cheese curds tossed together into one dish.

Poutine has become increasingly popular in the last few years.

Although many people outside of Quebec pronounce poutine as “poo-teen”, the correct pronunciation—at least in Quebec—is “poo-tin”.

IMPORTANCE OF POUTINE

The poutine grew popular in the small towns of southeastern Quebec before arriving in Quebec City in 1969, and in Montreal in 1983. At that time, poutine became a common offering on menus in Quebec.

As poutine’s popularity spread, various iterations began to appear, such as Italian poutine (made with spaghetti sauce in place of gravy, or sausage), veggie poutine (made with mushroom sauce and vegetables) and Irish poutine (made with lardons). It now comes in a plethora of modern variations from duck confit to pulled pork, and is even served in fast food restaurants nation-wide.

Poutine is becoming a symbol of regional cultural diversity in Quebec.

HOW TO MAKE POUTINE

Making authentic poutine is not simply a matter of getting French fries, adding cheese, and pouring gravy on top: There are certain requirements for each of the three components in the meal.

1.  Prepare the gravy.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring regularly for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds. Add the beef and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, to taste. Make ahead and re-warm or keep warm until your fries are ready.

2.  Prepare the fries.

Choose potatoes that are good for frying: new red potatoes are ideal. Prepare potatoes by rinsing and cutting into 1/2-inch thick sticks. When ready to cook the potatoes, heat the oil in a heavy skillet or deep fryer. Add the potatoes and fry until a crispy golden brown. Set on paper towels or cloth towels to drain.

3.  Add the cheese curds and gravy.

Add fries to a large, clean bowl and cover with fresh cheese curds. The best curds are real Quebecois curds. Finally, top fries with hot gravy.

OPTION: Be creative and add meat and/or vegetables. 


By Song Zhe
Royal Roads University Student

The Cider Diaries: Tales of Cycling, Travel, and a Quest to Realize the Apple’s Deepest Purpose

Volume 1: An Unexpected Meeting
“So you’re with the…um…?”

“US Secret Service.”

‘Well, that explains the earpiece, stone cold expression, sunglasses, and poorly-fitting suit’ I thought to myself as I pressed shoulder to shoulder with the crowd, staring into the unflinching face of the United States’ finest.  Without intending to do so, myself and my cycling companions had found ourselves mere feet from Zoran Milanovic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia.  My fellow cyclist Tyler, clearly unnerved by the presence of secret service, tried to determine if his hands belonged in or out of his pockets by moving them in and out in furtive succession, prompting some cold stares from the watchful men with guns and little sense of humour.

We had woken up in tents nearby and cycled into downtown Gig Harbour, Washington on a cloudy late September morning to find the quintessential American chicken-fried steak breakfast experience.  Instead, we had unwittingly plunged ourselves into a throng of police, US Secret Service, the entire population of Gig Harbour Croatian enclave (all senior citizens), the political cabinet of Croatia, and ol’ Roarin’ Zoran himself.  Suddenly, we were unsure of how to proceed.  Seek out our greasy breakfast, or attempt to pull off the greatest unplanned group photo of all time?!  It’s not every day you come face to face with a head of state, after all.

The decision was quickly made for us, as Zoran was whisked through the crowd and into a waiting motorcade. Apparently the mid-morning mingle was over, and Mr. Milanovic was off to continue his tech tour across the U.S. Our window of opportunity over, we made our way to Kelly’s Cafe, the Gig Harbour breakfast spot, which was teeming with the Sunday morning breakfast crowd.

Our excellent XL-sized breakfast aside, our journey to the far reaches of Washington’s Puget Sound region had a purpose aside from an impromptu political meet-and-greet.  We had travelled 200 km by car, and 65 km by bicycle across land and sea, to attend The Greater Peninsula Cider Swig the previous afternoon, a family-friendly celebration of ‘hard apple cider’, as our American friends put it.   The reason for this trip deserves an diary entry all to itself, but in short, myself and my friends were, are, and will continue to be, working professionals moonlighting as cider makers, and striving to develop a commercial product to meet BC’s growing thirst for cider.  Our trip to Gig Harbor, and other forays into Washington and Oregon States, have served as reconnaissance, competitive intelligence gathering, learning, and heck, some cider-fueled good times.

In The Cider Diaries, I will share some stories relating to the trials and tribulations of making cider, regional cycle tourism in BC and Washington State, and other tales associated with learning the craft.  Hopefully, you the reader can learn a thing or two about the Pacific Northwest’s burgeoning craft cider industry, and have a few laughs at the expense of me and my companions along the way.  In the words of ye olde cyder lovers: Wassail!  And welcome to The Cider Diaries.

Yours in fermentation and long-haul rides,

Eric D.

ericdouglas
Eric Douglas is a Royal Roads graduate and entrepreneur. His serialized column will explore the beauty in cycling, travel, and cider production in the Pacific Northwest.