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Poutine puts the fat in Fat Tuesday

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March 4 is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday is dedicated to revelry and overindulgence in everything pleasurable before the Lenten season begins. Most Mardi Gras food ideas come from the city that made Mardi Gras famous, New Orleans. However, it's high time for the Quebecois invention known as poutine to become a Mardi Gras staple.

Poutine is a savory side dish consisting of french fried potatoes topped with a tangy beef sauce with cheese melted over the whole shebang. The original recipe calls for cheese curds, a product that is available from a few local dairies that sell directly to the consumer or over the internet. Shredded cheddar cheese can be substituted.

Poutine
6 to 8 medium potatoes
vegetable oil for frying

Sauce
4 c. beef stock
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tbsp. corn starch
1 tbsp. minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced

2 c. Cheddar cheese curds or shredded Cheddar cheese

Wash and julienne potatoes. Place in large bowl and cover with cold water. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour; for extra-crispy fries, soak in cold water overnight.

Prepare sauce. In large measuring cup, mix together beef stock, ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Add corn starch and stir until dissolved. In medium saucepan, melt butter. Saute onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add liquid ingredients, bring to a simmer and stir occasionally, allowing liquid to reduce by half, about 20 minutes. Stir constantly as liquid thickens to prevent scorching, then remove from heat.

Drain potatoes, pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil for frying to 350 degrees in a deep fryer or deep skillet. Drop in potatoes, fry 4 to 6 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown. Remove potatoes from oil and drain on paper toweling.

Place potatoes in a shallow bowl. Cover with beef sauce, and top with cheese curds. Toss ingredients together prior to serving; if sauce has cooled, place bowl into microwave and heat 30 seconds so that cheese melts. Serves 4 - 6

Starting on Wednesday we'll feature meatless main dishes that will make Lent less challenging.

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