When I was at primary school I remember a friend who had hot dinners was served hamburger (possibly with chips, though I forget now) with gravy. We all thought that was very odd though it doesn’t appear to have been entirely unusual for school dinners of the 1980s. And perhaps the school was actually ahead of its time – have you come across poutine, which is essentially chips with gravy?
I was looking for a Canadian dish for the next round of Formula 1 Foods and remembered going to a Canada Day party last year (the host wasn’t Canadian, she just liked the excuse for a themed party!) where poutine was served. I wasn’t particularly taken with it as it seemed to just be Bisto on oven chips, but actually there is more to it than that. It’s more of a sauce that’s similar to gravy, and then has cheese curds on top; it’s typical diner food in Canada and is apparently popular at hockey games. I don’t know whether they eat poutine at the Formula 1 Grand Prix – I doubt it but you never know!
I found a great recipe online that also involved making the chips yourself but I didn’t have time to do this, and my boyfriend doesn’t like homemade chips, so I used oven chips. I also had to look up what cheese curds are, and found that they are the solid parts of soured milk that comes from when it’s being processed into cheese – and according to Wikipedia, they are often used in cooking or even eaten alone in Canada or the US. I have got a cheese making kit that I got for Christmas which would have been the perfect thing to use, as I could actually make cheese curds. But I hadn’t read the recipes and didn’t realise that to make the cheeses I needed either cream or full fat milk and I only had skimmed – and I’m so busy at the moment I knew that if I put off making my poutine for another week I probably wouldn’t get around to it. I did read online that grated cheese is an acceptable alternative so that’s what I used. I only realised much later that cottage cheese is actually a curd, though I didn’t have any of that in the house either!
The poutine recipe I used is from the Food Network:
As I mentioned I skipped the part of the recipe for making the chips and went straight in with the sauce. I used one pan to fry the onion and garlic, and added both chicken and beef stock, ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. In another pan I melted butter and stirred in the flour to make a roux, then carefully whisked in the stock mixture.
It was thicker than I had expected – it thickened as I kept the pan over a low heat – so by the time the chips were ready, I could spoon rather than pour it on. I was highly dubious at the thought of chips with gravy but this sauce had a real depth of flavour and a hint of barbecue – it was really lovely. I couldn’t tell from the picture whether the cheese was supposed to be underneath or on top of the sauce so I did a bit of both – and ended up going back for seconds of sauce!