If you live in the northern United States or anywhere in Canada, then you instantly recognize poutine for what it is. If you live anywhere south of that, you might be wondering. What poutine is, for those of you who have missed out so far, is a dish consisting of hot-out-of-the-oil French fries topped with a garlicky brown gravy and cheddar cheese curds. We kick this version up with additional toppings of beer-braised elk roast and caramelized onions.
While cheese curds aren’t exactly common down South, they can be found at most cheese shops or online at several places. The fresher the better, you want that squeaky goodness that exists only in a fresh curd.
Frozen fries will work in a pinch, but to get the most authentic poutine, hand-cut russet or Yukon gold potatoes into fry-size pieces. Place them in a bowl of ice water in the refrigerator for two hours, then double fry. It’s a lot of work, but the golden crispy outside and creamy center make the extra time worth it.
1 elk roast, 2 pounds or so, seasoned well with salt, pepper and dried rosemary
3 onions, sliced
4 pounds of Yukon gold or Russet potatoes, sliced into fries
1.5 pounds cheddar cheese curds
2 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup flour
4 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pour a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil into a Dutch oven or heavy pot. Heat over medium-high and add elk roast, turning to sear all sides for a minute or two each.
Remove the roast from the pan and add sliced onions. Sprinkle with salt and stir to allow the onions to begin to soften. Pour in a beer and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the stuck-on bits.
Add the roast back to the pan. Cover tightly and place the pan into a 300-degree oven for four hours to allow the roast to braise until the roast begins to fall apart. Shred the roast and mix the meat into the onions.
To make the gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for four to five minutes until it turns golden brown. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Add the cider vinegar and the Worcestershire sauce. Continue to stir until gravy thickens. Remove from heat and cover the pan to keep the gravy warm while the fries cook.
Pour three inches of vegetable oil into a tall-sided stock pot. Heat to 325 degrees. While the oil comes to temperature, line a sheet pan with paper towels. Add the fries, a batch at a time, to the hot oil and fry for four minutes. Using a large slotted spoon or wire spider, remove the fries to the paper-lined sheet pan. Once all of the fries have been in the oil for four minutes, let them cool for 20 minutes.
While the fries cool, turn up the heat and bring the oil to 350 degrees. Again working in batches, drop the fries into the hot oil and cook until golden brown and crisp. Drain well and move them back to the paper-towel-lined sheet pan (you might have to put down fresh paper towels if the old ones are soaked in oil). This double-fry method yields a much better-finished product than a single fry.
Plate the fries while they are still hot. Spoon over enough gravy that it runs down through the fries and pools a bit on the platter for dipping. Top with cheese curds and the shredded, braised elk and onions mixture.
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