A number of years ago, I ran off to Montréal over Thanksgiving. My family was't too happy about this, but I ended up being equally disappointed because I found myself in a place that had celebrated Thanksgiving a month earlier.
You see, I am a gravy fiend and will literally drink the stuff right out of the gravy boat when no-one is looking. With mashed potatoes, it's a perfect meal, and the thought of missing this had me a little heart broken... That is, until I discovered Poutine!
It's a weird name that sounds vaguely lewd, but it's actually a fast food dish that originated in Québec. Whoever came up with this stuff needs to be worshiped because the only thing better than deep fried potatoes, is deep fried potatoes covered in a mound of cheese curd, that's all swimming in gravy. The heat from the fries and gravy melts the cheese curd making for a creamy pile of meaty carnal heaven. Oh, and did I mention that the potatoes are traditionally fried in horse fat?! (don't worry no horses were harmed in the making of this poutine)
I first came across the brilliance of using sweet potatoes in this dish at one of my favourite blogs, Gild the Voodoo Lily. Because the gravy and cheese curds are savoury, using sweet potatoes gives it a nice balance between the savoury and creamy elements.
If you're in NYC you can get fresh cheese curds at Saxelby Cheesemongers, which has a fantastic selection of unique cheeses, but if you're elsewhere, you should be able to find it at your local cheese shop.
- Put the oven rack in the upper middle position and turn on to 450 degrees F.
- Peel and cut the potatoes into 1/4" sticks. Toss in canola oil to coat (don't use olive oil, which has a lower smoke point and will burn in the oven). Sprinkle with some sea salt then lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Put in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the potatoes are in the oven, prepare the gravy. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the shallots sauteing until soft and fragrant. Add the flour and stir to coat. Whisk in the chicken stock and port.
- As the gravy begins to thicken, turn down the heat to medium low and add the demi-glace and thyme, stirring with a spatula to dissolve. Continue cooking until the demi-glace is completely dissolved and the gravy is smooth.
- To serve, just pile up the potatoes and crumble the cheese curds on top. Pour the gravy over all of it and garnish with some minced parsley.