Monday, February 15, 2010

Gold Medal Poutine

and I don't mean Gold Medal Flour.

I told Danny that when a Canadian won a gold medal at a home Olympics, I would make poutine. I was so confident it would happen, I bought the cheese curds last week anticipating the event.

Tonight's dinner comes to you courtesy of Alexandre Bilodeau. I dare you to read THIS and not get all teary-eyed.

Now, how in the world did I make vegetarian-friendly poutine, you're wondering. Fortunately, Danny is cool with dairy, so I only needed to adjust the frying fat and replace the gravy with one made from vegetarian stock. Yes, I did think about making a second set of fried potatoes so Mr. ETB could have them fried in duck fat. I thought about it. However, Mr. ETB neglected to bring me so much as a freaking card or cheap chocolate heart for Valentine's Day, so really, I'd say he's damned lucky to be getting dinner cooked for him at all. That's all I'm going to say on that matter, save that the duck fat will keep rather a long time-long enough to see how he does remembering his wife next Valentine's day. Oh no, I'm really not hurt at all. Maybe I can show my appreciation by starching his shorts...

So, poutine. I understand it should have a very dark, spicy gravy and that's what I made. I added mushrooms which I know is not traditional (I mean, the "tradition dates to the late 50's-hardly a terribly long tradition, but you know how funny people get about these things). I also understand that white cheese curds are preferred. The orange ones were all I could find. I did have excellent potatoes. I think that really makes all the difference when frying.

So congratulations Canada-it was a long wait for a gold medal won at home, and we lift our bowl of poutine to you, and toast your victory.

You Will Need:

3 large, starchy potatoes peeled, cut and soaked several hours in a bowl of water in the fridge.
Oil for frying (or lard if you're feeling adventurous and of a strong constitution)
Dark, spicy gravy (recipe follows)
Cheese Curds

Soak the potatoes and before drying drain them and pat dry REALLY well.

Prepare the gravy:

1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped fine
1 large onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 tablespoons butter (for the mushroom/onions)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt/Pepper to taste
Splash of full-bodied red wine
2 cups vegetarian broth
4 tablespoons butter (for the roux)
4 tablespoons flour

Cook the mushrooms, onions and garlic in the butter until quite soft. Add thyme and a bit of salt and pepper (you'll want to adjust again after the stock). Cook a few minutes more and then add wine. Turn heat up to high and cook until wine and liquid from mushrooms burns off almost completely. Remove from heat.

In another saucepan, heat the butter until it begins to sizzle over medium heat. With a wooden spoon, add the flour and cook until it foams and darkens. This becomes a matter of taste-I like a darker roux, but I am also quite comfortable making sauces. Most people quit at about the point it looks the colour of peanut butter. That is a reasonable guideline. At most, you're looking at a few minutes. Slowly add the stock with a whisk and keep whisking until it is smooth (it may lump-but it will smooth out). Bring sauce back to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil one minute longer and remove from heat. Stir in the mushrooms/onions. Cover, and keep warm until the potatoes are ready to serve.

Fry the potatoes. I like to give mine a quick dunk and then drain them on a rack before increasing the heat for the second pass through the oil. Your technique may vary. I'm a firm believer in doing things the way you like them and fried potatoes are kind of personal that way. You should never let someone tell you how to enjoy your potatoes-those are the sort of heartless bastards that will forget Valentine's Day (and Mother's Day, and your anniversary, and buying you a wedding ring after more than fifteen years and...well you get the idea. You just go ahead and make your potatoes any way your heart desires and if anyone complains, you show them the way to the kitchen to cook their own. Potatoes are sacred.

When the potatoes are done, toss them in a bowl, cover with cheese curds, and then dump on the gravy. Serve hot.

No comments: