Poutine is said to have originated in the French-Canadian province of Quebec in 1957 when restaurateur Fernand Lachance was asked by a customer to make a dish combining fries and cheese. He eventually put the well-received dish on his menu and now, with the addition of gravy to help melt the fresh cheese curds, it's an adored snack throughout the country with many variations and even has its own festival.
- 2 kg large starchy potatoes, cut into 1 cm x 8 cm batons
- vegetable oil, to deep-fry
- 2 litres (8 cups) unhomogenised full-cream milk
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) lemon juice
- 500 ml (2 cups) beef stock
- 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock
- 100 g butter
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 75 g (½ cup) plain flour
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking and draining time overnight
To make curds, heat milk in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat until milk reaches 92ºC on a cooking thermometer. Add lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of salt, and stir gently to combine. Remove from heat and stand on a wire rack for 25 minutes or until the curds and whey separate.
Set a colander over a bowl and line with enough muslin to overhang by 8 cm. Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds to colander (discarding whey). Cover curd with overhanging muslin and place a weight on top. Refrigerate overnight to drain.
Place potato batons in a large bowl, cover with water and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, to make gravy, combine stocks in a large jug. Heat butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion has softened. Scatter over flour and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until flour has browned. Gradually add stocks and, continuously stirring, bring to a gentle simmer. Season, reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until thick. Strain through a fine sieve and keep warm.
Drain potatoes and dry well with paper towel. Fill a deep-fryer or large saucepan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 160ºC (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 20 seconds). Working in batches, gently drop potatoes into oil and fry for 5 minutes or until light golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Increase oil temperature to 180ºC (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Working in batches, cook chips for a further 5 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel and season with a little salt.
Break cheese curds into bite-size pieces. Place chips in a large bowl. Top with cheese curds and then spoon over warm gravy. Serve immediately.
Photography by Chris Chen. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Food styling by Justine Poole.
As seen in Feast magazine, August 2014, Issue 34.