Possibly Poutine


Am I a food blogger? Well, I write about cheese which is, after all, one of the major food groups. I cook stuff and stick photographs up of each excruciating chopping, stirring, braising stage for all to see. So I guess I must be.

But on the other hand, some food bloggers always have beautiful photographs of perfectly cooked dishes quivering on vintage china with flowers in the background. They never seem to have disasters where their pie crust cracks down the middle or they leave a sauce simmering to go and break up a row about a mouth organ and come back to find it’s burnt to the bottom of the pan. I’m certainly not one of those food bloggers. And this post bears testimony to that. So before an angry hoard of Canadians takes up arms and heads for the suburbs of Tooting, look, I know it’s not worked out perfectly, okay?

I was attracted to making Poutine because it was about the most novel use of cheese curds I’ve ever heard of and because it contains chips. Essentially it’s cheese, chips and gravy with a posh-sounding name. Poutine is a French-Canadian dish which is commonly sold in pubs and what we would call ‘greasy spoons’ over here. It’s also been taken up by big chains such as McDonalds and Burger King, such is its popularity. There are dozens of versions of how both the name and the recipe originated but one chap called Fernand Lachance, from Quebec claims that poutine was invented there in 1957. When someone asked him to put some curds on some fries he exclaimed ‘ça va faire une maudite poutine’ (‘it will make a damn mess’) and a national cuisine was born (the gravy came later to keep the chips warm).

I fear I have bastardised this national treasure in a multitude of ways. I don’t have a deep fat fryer and I didn’t want to get into the business of hot oil and so I baked my chips in the oven. The gravy is genuine chicken gravy, leftover from our Sunday roast, so this at least is authentic.

The curds. Ah, the curds. As anyone who reads this blog knows, my cheese-making skills can best be described as erratic. This dish is very specific in that it calls for ‘squeaky’ cheese curds and so this involves using culture and rennet and scalding the resulting curds until they literally squeak between the teeth. All this I did. I warmed the milk, used a mesophilic starter and left it for 45 minutes. I then added the rennet and left it for a further 45 minutes. I got a clean set, cut up my curds and then scalded them until they released lots of whey and got squeaky. And they did squeak, a tiny bit, like the world’s smallest mouse with laryngitis. But not well enough, I realise. Really, Canadians, I do realise. And they’re too small.

But what can I say about the finished dish? Curds. Chips. Gravy. Yum.

Are you Canadian? Come and tell me about Poutine and what it means to you and how appalled you are at what I’ve produced.


Filed under Cheese Recipes

35 responses to “Possibly Poutine

  1. You can’t call this a disaster! Ok, I’m not Canadian (but I _am_ North American). And you want disaster? Try this one: I pricked the skin and microwaved a squash, but clearly I hadn’t poked enough, deep enough holes. If the link works, you can see (part of) the results on my blog page:

  2. Hey, who hasn’t had the odd disaster in the kitchen?!? I love that you still wrote about it rather than brushed it under the carpet – I made squeaky scrambled eggs the other day (will post next week) keep up the good work 😀

  3. As a representative of the grand city, errr, country of Canada, I would like to commend you for taking a stab at Poutine. I agree with the other comments, who hasn’t had a stumble or two in the kitchen but it still looks like it turned out pretty good. Plus, there aren’t many Canadians (or otherwise) who can claim they’ve made their own curds for Poutine. Heck, it’s hard enough to find people or even restaurants that make their own gravy these days…so in some ways, your poutine is more traditional than most. Always a silver lining somewhere 🙂

    • Hurray, a Canadian gives me Poutine-points! The curds look better in the photo than they actually were but I made cheese with a proper cheese-maker recently so I know a squeaky curd when I bite one!

  4. The Canadian’s have to give you credit for trying to make the proper cheese. The only time I ever made poutine I gave up looking for fresh curd cheese and just used little mozzarella balls along with stock cube gravy!

  5. Yummm…this looks pretty darned tantalizing to me! I was (briefly) in Canada this summer and was determined to try authentic poutine, but I was super disappointed – the restaurant we chose didn’t even use cheese curds, just regular shredded cheddar/colby (and it wasn’t even melted)! Clearly, not all Canadians are poutine-experts. Yours looks great!

  6. Looks good to me, and, yes, you absolutely ARE a food blogger!!! It’s sharing the things that work AND the ones that don’t that makes you so 🙂 anyone who doesn’t have any disasters has merely filed them in the circular file…x

  7. Well that picture has sure made me hungry! Where would one get curds if one hadn’t made some themselves ,or is there a nice easy recipe? Oh and what do they taste like, creamy?salty?

    • It’s pretty hard to get them, unless you happen to know a friendly cheese-maker. They’re not that tricky to make but you need rennet and starter culture. Mine didn’t quite make it though, they weren’t squeaky enough. They taste quite creamy but you also salt them. They eat them as snacks in Canada too apparently!

  8. Ive never heard of Poutine, it doesnt look like a disaster to me. Your blog always makes we want to go out and eat cheese, even at 11am. I think its good to share disasters as well as triumphs!

  9. Lucy from Life and Cheese

    At least the curds formed! Many of my cheese making efforts seem only to produce ricotta!

  10. I love your blog…and you definitely are a food blogger! I love the fact that you’re “for real”… I’m learning so much from you, and the different cheeses that you introduce.
    And as far as the Poutine, it looks delicious!! It doesn’t remotely look like disaster!! I would totally eat your Poutine. Happily. 🙂

  11. This is great! Your curds look good to me – and at least you went to the effort of making them. Whenever I’ve tried it here (in Britain) people just use straight-up mozzarella or even plain old grated cheddar – not the same at all! You do need that squeakiness. Have you a recipe for your curds, or d’you not feel confident enough for that?

  12. Cheese, chips and gravy? Sold! I think it looks great too

  13. “like the world’s smallest mouse with laryngitis” – bahahaa! You are definitely a food blogger if you can write lines like that.
    And, hey, at least you used curds for your poutine. That’s definitely worth poutine-points. I didn’t even bother when making my travesty version back in January…

  14. I first heard of Poutine a few months ago, looked into it and decided not to bother, so congratulations on actually bothering, looked fine to me, can’t be any worse than my chicken and quinoa disaster..

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