Only one month ago I was in Toronto, a city I deeply fell in love with. Curious about Canadian habits and customs – even in the kitchen – I asked my Canadian friends what was their national dish or traditional meals. The answer: Poutine aka french fries covered in brown gravy and cheese curd, a popular choice even if you don’t live in Quebec (where the recipe is originally from).
Doesn’t this sound like comfort food par excellence? As children, as adults, I’m sure we all enjoy a bowl of fries. The choice is extensive as to what type of fries you want. Straight cut, thick cut, French, crinkle, curly … the list goes on. Whatever your taste, making your homemade fries can be a cumbersome task. Wash and peel a potato, taking out any eyes and black spots so the surface is smooth. Then, with a vegetable peeler, start to slice round the potato to produce long curls of raw potato. These strips can become fragile so be careful not to break them.
It’s best not to make them too long, but of course long enough that they keep their trade mark curl. Season these potato curls in salt, onion powder and Cajun spices. Heat a pan of oil and submerge the curls so that they are completely covered in oil. You can watch them cook quickly as they are relatively thin. Once the fries are golden brown, lift them out and pat them dry with some kitchen paper as excess oil can make the fries become soggy and taste a tad nasty. Once dried, place in a bowl with the dips of your choice; guacamole, salsa or gravy like in Poutine.
Now, it is all well and good me saying how to make them yourself, but, I find that the shop bought curly fries are so much tastier and thicker. I have yet to find a way of making thick curly fries and mine tend to come out more like curly crisps.
For this Vegetarian Poutine I used McCain oven chips 5% fat. made with potatoes and sunflower oil. No artificial colors or flavors, no hydrogenated fats. I don’t usually buy frozen foods but I have no prejudices so if I found the one that meets my quality standards I simply go for it. I took a shortcut baking them for my very first homemade Poutine.
I baked the fries for 10 mins and then grilled them for a couple of minutes more in the oven (not drowned in oil like home-made). These “pomme frites” were crispy and fragrant. I would say that when it comes to fries, it is better to buy frozen than to make your own. I don’t say that about many food products! If grilled, you can have perfect fries within 15 minutes, a lot quicker than homemade.
Have you ever tried Poutine? What is your favorite comfort food?
Quick Vegetarian Poutine Fries
- 2 cups frozen fries
- 3 tbsp butter salted
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup feta cheese or cheese curds
- Spread the fries on a baking sheet and bake at 220 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until golden and crispy.
- Heat the butter and flour in a small pan on medium heat. Cook until it has turned light brown.
- Add one tablespoon at a time of the vegetable stock and continue to stir with a wooden spoon. Then add the rest of the broth. Cook and stir until the gravy has thickened and then remove from the heat - this will take about 10 minutes.
- Once the french fries have cooked, remove them from the oven and place onto a plate, top with crumbled feta cheese and the vegetarian gravy.