It’s not fair that Canada gets all the best drunk foods. I mean, maybe not all of them, but they got the top dog, and that’s all that really matters. I’m talking about poutine: that borderline nonsensical combination of fries, cheese curds, and sticky brown gravy that’s oozing with so much beef flavor it tastes like straight up concentrated steak juice.
We have our fair share of so-called poutine stateside, but the term has become so diluted that it’s now used to describe any combination of fries with shit on top. No, dick, that isn’t “pizza poutine,” you just threw a bunch of canned marinara sauce and cheese on top of fries and jacked up the price to exploit my intoxicated bloodlust for gravy (my gravylust). It’s time to reclaim the purity of our drunk foods by taking matters into our own hands.
Here’s what you need:
- Beef Stock
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Russet Potatoes
- Cheese Curds
- Vegetable Oil
First, a quick refresher on how to make the perfect fries (the long version can be found here): Peel a few russet potatoes, then cut them into, you know, fry-shaped bits. Go with whatever thickness you want, except for shoestrings, because shoestring fries are bullshit. Everyone knows that. Boil the potatoes in salted water for a few minutes, drain them, let them dry, freeze them completely, then fry at 375 degrees until golden brown and sprinkle with salt. Or just drop a bunch of freezer aisle potatoes into hot oil like your favorite restaurant probably does. Whatever. Once your fries are drowning in gravy the technical minutiae get lost. Use that as an opportunity to fuck up without anyone noticing.
The real key to poutine is mastering that deep brown gravy that tastes almost unnaturally beefy; and thanks to gravy starters, soup bases, and good old fashioned monosodium glutamate, they are literally unnaturally beefy. Heat up some store bought beef stock on the stove until it boils, then shut off the heat. You want your stock to be warm when you mix it into the roux to avoid any separation or clumping.
Oh hey, speaking of a roux, make a roux. But make it darker than you usually might for, say, chicken-fried steak gravy. In a medium saucepan, combine equal parts flour and butter and stir over medium-low heat for at least 20 minutes, until it forms a dark-ish, almost peanut butter-like color. Then, stream in your beef stock, stirring constantly, until no lumps form. Rocking the eyeball test is always the best way to go—you may have different gravy preferences than I do—but a good ratio to go by is one cup of stock per four tablespoons of butter and flour.
Season your gravy with salt and black pepper, and if you really want to ramp up that beefy flavor, add a few drops of soy sauce or Worcestershire, or, hell, do both. Live a little. Get all the brown flavor you can in there.
Lay out your fries in a big-ass bowl, top them with cheese curds — fresh mozzarella works fine if you can’t find legit cheese curds at the store — then ladle a bunch of piping hot, salty brown gravy over the top. Eat it with your hands, because you’re probably drunk, and that’s the right move.
Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.
Photos by All photos by Josh Scherer