If you didn’t know, today, Monday, April 11th is National Poutine Day! I kid you not. So on this day, I mad a conscious effort to celebrate appropriately by seeking out our Nationale export – I’m not talking about Celine Dion, but funny I should say that because I’ve been calling her “Celine Poutine” for the longest time now – POUTINE!. Sinfully delicious French fries topped with cheese curds and doused in hot gravy, it’s practically art. I hit up Poutineville this afternoon in search of squeaky and stretchy cheese.
We were handed both a menu as well as a Harry Potter like sorcery checklist to concoct a custom poutine to our own likes and specifications. The menu consists of classic burgers and hotdogs, but that’s not what we were in for today. We were out for poutine blood, and Poutineville was to quench our thirst. I had the poutine tasting choice and my friend decided to test what would be as close as she’ll ever come to her cooking skills, by choosing the toppings to her poutine.
I had the three poutine sampler plate. Explained to me by our waitress, it was a chance to taste Poutineville’s namesakes stripped down to its bare essentials. Three different preparations of potatoes as well as three different sauces.
Smashed potatoes with red wine sauce. Potatoes roasted whole with the skin on, then smashed and beaten like it stole something. What’s best about roasting potatoes with the skin on is that the skin crisps up and the edges of the potato gets hard and crusty, leaving the innards soft and fluffy. I was told that this is a nine-hour-sauce, meaning, this bad boy sat on top of the stove all morning in a saucepan spa slowly simmering away. The taste is really rich and deep, almost murky and mysterious, definitely the Keyser Söze of the poutine gravy world.
I spun my plate around to experience the next level of poutination. Sweet potato French fries with a three-pepper gravy. The potatoes lend a mild fruitiness to the poutine which is completely balanced out by the pepper sauce. Genius. I’ve always found that the only problem with sweet potato fries is that they don’t stay crispy long enough – this is attributed to the higher starch content of the potato. But when I was close to waving the white flag in defeat and was picking away at what was left of these fries… they were still crispy. I don’t know how they do it or what technique is used, but Poutineville managed to discover some sort of secret sweet potato viagra.
Straight up fries, cheese curds and original brown gravy. This option doesn’t mess around. Having Poutineville’s straight up original poutine (even if you’ve never had a poutine in your life before), tasting it for the first time, you will know right away that this is what a poutine should taste like.
My friend went with combination # 43,542,245 (explained later), which comprised of sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, Italian sausage and bacon. Mushrooms and onions go together regardless of the context, and let’s face it, you would probably eat a door-knob if it was wrapped in bacon… ok, maybe that’s just me.
We ordered the large size like we suffered from poutine deficiencies. Poutineville scored MAJOR points, because before we even started, I dug right to the middle of the pile and discovered that the middle was filled with cheese as well. How many times have you eaten off the cheesey yamaka of a poutine to be left with just a pitiful bowlful of fries? ALWAYS right? They knew this was a concern to addressed it accordingly… by stuffing the middle of this SOB with more cheese.
It’s easy to say that a poutine is a poutine, WRONG. All elements play important roles in this gastronomic symphony of Quebecois culinary heritage. Cheese curds, must be the highlight; it must squeak to the bite, and also be able to be pulled like hot glue or sweet maple taffy. This would only be possible if the gravy is thick but viscous enough to maintain and retain a level of adequate cheese melting temperature. Gravy must also compliment both fries and contrast the cheese to provide a sharp tang to the creamy cheese.
Mathematical breakdown of Poutineville; by chosing one of three types of potatoes, one of three types of sauces and a mix and match of 33 toppings.
3 * 3 * (2^33) or N[3 3 2^33] = 77,309,411,328
That’s 77,309,411,328 different combination possibilities (did anyone else get a little turned on?), and even if you had a poutine three times a day, it would still take you 70,602,202 – 70-friggin-million years to eat through Poutineville’s menu (I believe this calculation to be correct, but if any of you math geeks out there think otherwise, let me know). What are you waiting for? You have to start somewhere, get crackalackin’.