Killer Poutine Recipe
You’ve gotta try this poutine recipe! Rich beef gravy with hidden veggies, ladled over oven fries and cheese. So killer!
Yes, I am the kind of person who eats fries for dinner.
I am also the kind of person that serves them to my family.
And I feel darn good about it when it’s something like this poutine recipe!
I’m a mom of 2 teenage boys, and they have very specific tastes. In other words, the junkier the better.
There’s no talking them out of it, so I’ve come up with workarounds. I try to make their junk-food favorites homemade. And I try to sneakily make them a litte healthier if I can.
They love it. And it’s less expensive than ordering takeout all the time (and probably a lot better for us!).
So today I’m sharing one of their top favorites: poutine!
WHAT IS POUTINE?
Poutine is the national dish of Canada!
I was lucky enough to travel to Quebec city a few years back, and it’s literally everywhere. You can even get it at McDonalds!
Think French fries, bathed in rich beef gravy. Studded throughout with savory nuggets of falling-apart-tender braised meat and melty, stretchy cheese curds. Drool!
Omg so insane and such dude food, seriously. Which I am always down for.
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
Poutine is a really hearty dish.
The french fries are really filling and then they’re topped with this really rich, earthy gravy.
The creamy cheese provides a contrast of both flavor and texture. Mild against deeply rich and slightly, pleasingly bitter; squeaky and stretchy against soft and unctuous… it’s really quite a gastronomical experience!
And for this poutine recipe I add hidden veggies to make it a balanced meal, but also to flavor and thicken the gravy. There’s a slight, vegetal sweetness and a really nice balance of savory seasonings.
HOW TO MAKE POUTINE
There are 3 main components to this dish:
- Crispy Oven-Baked French Fries
- Rich Beef Gravy (it’s almost like a beef stew), and
- Cheese (I can’t get cheese curds where I live so I use a combination of cheese sauce and shredded cheese)
I’d recommend starting with the gravy, since that takes the longest to make. The fries and cheese sauce can be made while the gravy simmers away on the stove.
Btw, this gravy is a “low-and-slow” kind of recipe. I like to make it on a wintery Sunday when there’s lots of time and everyone is gathered around the tv watching a game.
You’ll want to use cubes of beef to start with. At my grocery store, they’re labeled “stew meat.” They’re usually a tougher cut of meat, which is perfect for the slow braise we are going to cook them in.
Heat a little olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot until it’s shimmering. Then season the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and give it a nice hot sear.
You are looking for a really deep brown crust.
Don’t worry for a second if the bottom of the pot gets a whole lot of dark brown gunk on the bottom. It’s tempting to think it will be a nightmare to clean, but I promise it won’t be. And all that brown is going to add so much flavor to this poutine recipe. It’s called “fond” and it’s delicious.
Remove the browned meat from the pot and set it aside.
If the pot looks like it needs it, add a little more oil and then toss in the carrots and onions.
I just use half a bag of baby carrots (easy-peasy) and chop the onion really roughly. It’s all gonna get pureed up anyway so it doesn’t matter.
Once again, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
You can also use some fresh herbs at this stage, if you like. Sometimes I’ll add some thyme or rosemary sprigs, maybe a couple of bay leaves.
But for this recipe, I’m just giving you the basics.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and saute the veggies until the onions are starting to look translucent.
Then pop in a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Stir it all around so the veg gets coated and allow it to brown a little bit and enrich that fond.
Sprinkle a little flour on top. This will help thicken the gravy.
Stir it all around, cooking out the raw taste of the flour for a minute or so.
Then stir in half a beer, using your spoon to scrape up those browned bits. The beer adds incredible flavor but it also helps to pull that fond up, bringing its toasty-brown flavor into the gravy and making your pot easy to clean.
I’ve got you in so many ways, my friend!
Use any kind of beer you like the taste of. For what you see here, I used an IPA but I think a malty, nut-brown ale would be even better. Or a dark, intensely flavorful porter.
This recipe calls for half a beer and it makes a whole lot of gravy. So it’s a very small amount per portion, and all the alcohol will cook out anyway. But if you don’t want to use beer you can just leave it out, or use additional beef stock instead.
Pour in a box of beef stock, bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat back down and allow the gravy to simmer until the carrots are very soft.
If you’ve added herbs, be sure to fish out the stems or any tough leaves before pureeing.
Now add the meat back in and allow it to continue cooking at a low simmer, nice and slow. If you want, you can transfer it to a slow cooker at this stage, and just let it go all day while you’re at work or out having fun or whatever.
THE FRENCH FRIES
About 45 minutes to an hour before the gravy is done simmering, you can start on the fries. I shared a whole lot about how to make these healthier, oven-baked fries in my most recent post: Crispy Oven Fries.
Basically, you just cut them and soak them in salted hot water with a dash of vinegar added.
Then dry them off and coat them in a mixture of oil, cornstarch, and salt.
Arrange them in a single, even layer on a hot sheet pan, and bake them at a really high temp, turning them every so often so they brown evenly.
It’s a great recipe that combines all the best tips I’ve found for crispy oven fries. Check out the post for an in-depth explanation of why all these little tricks work to make them super crispy!
Cheese curds are the authentic way to make poutine. But they aren’t always easy to find in my neck of the woods. So I use my favorite cheese sauce recipe and a few handfuls of shredded cheese.
My cheese sauce recipe has been really popular over the last year or so. A fan favorite! You can find all the details here: Beer Cheese Recipe.
It’s basically just cream cheese, the remaining half a beer left over from making gravy, more cheese, and seasonings, melted together in a pot over very low heat.
Velvety-smooth, creamy, and so indulgently flavorful!
Use any kind of cheese you like. For a mild, milky-tasting element, I’d suggest mozzarella. If you like a sharper taste, I love extra-sharp white cheddar.
HOW TO SERVE THIS POUTINE RECIPE
Once all the components are ready, place a handful or two of fries in the bottom of a shallow bowl or on a plate.
Top them with shredded cheese, then drizzle on some of that gorgeous cheese sauce.
Ladle on a generous amount of the homemade beef gravy, then garnish with more cheese and some finely chopped parsley or scallions.
Then just dive in!
You’ve got everything you need in that bowl. Comfort food!
ARE POUTINE FRIES HEALTHY?
As a general rule I would say no, poutine probably isn’t the healthiest. French fries, red meat, and cheese? Very yummy but very fatty and heavy.
But this poutine recipe has been lightened up considerably. Oven fries are cooked in a very small amount of fat, and the gravy has veggies hidden in it.
Check out the recipe card below for specifics, and keep in mind that the recipe is dairy-free, nut-free, and egg-free.
You can also make it gluten-free by leaving out the flour and thickening the gravy with a cornstarch slurry instead. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water, and whisk it into the gravy at the very end.
If you want to lighten it up even further, try swapping out the beef for chicken or turkey. That would lower the fat content even more, especially if you used white meat rather than dark. You can swap out the stock too for chicken stock or turkey stock.
I bet you could even make it vegan by just leaving out the meat and subbing in vegetable stock and your favorite vegan cheeses.
CAN THIS POUTINE RECIPE BE MADE AHEAD?
If you’d like to make this dish ahead of time, I’d suggest making the gravy and cheese sauce first.
They will keep in the fridge for several days at least.
The fries can be cut and soaked several hours beforehand, just to get a lot of the prep out of the way ahead of time.
Reheat the gravy and the cheese sauce in a pot over low heat, or in the microwave in quick bursts, stirring.
Bake the fries and assemble the poutine just before serving, for optimal crispiness!
Or if you don’t mind the fries softening up under all those toppings (I sure don’t!), go ahead and do it all ahead of time!
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE MAIN COURSE RECIPES:
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You've gotta try this poutine recipe! Rich beef gravy with hidden veggies, ladled over oven fries and cheese. So killer!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound stew meat
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided), or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (divided), or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (divided), or to taste
- 8 ounces carrots
- 1 onion, medium
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces beer (addiional stock can be substituted)
- 32 ounces beef stock
- shredded cheddar cheese
- chopped parsley or scallions
Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and heat over high until shimmering.
Season the beef with half the salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and sear it in the hot oil until browned and crusty (approx. 5 to 10 minutes).
Turn the heat down to medium-low, remove the browned beef from the pot, and set aside.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot, along with the carrots, onion, and remaining salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Cook the vegetables, stirring, until the onions are translucent (approx. 5 to 10 minutes).
Add the tomato paste and stir until the veggies are coated.
Continue cooking until the tomato paste is beginning to brown (approx. 3 to 5 minutes), then sprinkle on the flour and stir until everything is evenly coated.
Stir in the beer, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the stock, turn the heat up until the mixture reaches a slow boil, then turn it back down to low and continue to simmer until the carrots are very soft (approx. 30 minutes).
Blend the gravy until smooth (I like to use a stick blender for this step), then add the seared beef back to the pot, place a lid on top, and continue to simmer on low heat until the meat is falling-apart tender (approx. 90 to 120 minutes).
Place the cream cheese and beer in a small pot over low heat.
When the cream cheese has softened, break it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, then whisk the mixture until smooth.
Add a little of the shredded cheddar cheese at a time, whisking until each addition has fully melted and incorporated before adding the next.
Whisk in the dry mustard and garlic powder.
Scrub the potatoes, peel them (if desired) and cut them into 3/8 to 1/2-inch planks.
Cut the planks into 3/8 to 1/2-inch batons.
Combine very hot tap water in a large bowl with the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the salt.
Soak the cut potato batons in the liquid for 15 to 30 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and thoroughly blot them dry with clean towels.
Place 2 foil-lined baking sheets in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
Place the cornstarch, remaining teaspoon of salt, and oil in a medium bowl and add the potatoes.
Toss the potatoes in the oil mixture until well-coated.
When the oven has reached 450 degrees F, quickly remove the baking sheets, mist them liberally with non-stick spray, and arrange the potatoes on them in an even layer (trying not to allow the potatoes to touch each other).
Bake the fries until golden brown and crisp on all sides, turning them every 6 to 7 minutes (approx. 25 to 30 minutes total).
Place the oven fries on a plate and top with cheese sauce, beef gravy, additional cheese, and parsley or scallions.
*If you are using milk, be sure to keep the sauce below the boiling point, or the sauce could become grainy.
This recipe can also be made in an instant pot or slow cooker. Once the meat and vegetables have been sauteed, cook the gravy on high in the pressure cooker for approx. 30 minutes, or in the crock pot on low for 8 hours, medium for 5 hours, or high for 2 hours.
You might have gravy and/or cheese sauce left over.
Find lots more info on the oven fries recipe here: Crispy Oven Fries.
Find lots more info on the cheese sauce recipe here: Beer Cheese.