Poutine – where does one even begin? Surely you’ve seen pictures, sampled it for yourself, and drawn your own conclusions about this hearty dish. There’s many takes on it, depending on where you’ve sampled it you’ve had it with beef, with chili, with turkey gravy, with fried cheese curds. This poutine is a slightly lighter take on that – I say slightly, because it’s meatless! Sure, there’s gravy, but it’s a roasty, complex mushroom gravy! Sure, there’s cheese curds, but they’re not fried. Yes, there’s fries – but they’re homemade and oven roasted. This is a poutine that you can take down an entire plate of and not feel too guilty or immobilized. It’s also very adaptable and can be taken in any direction you’d choose!
For the Oven Fries:
- 4-5 small russet potatoes
- olive oil
- sea salt or kosher salt
The procedure is everything for these fries – sure you can just bake some potato batons, but that’s not what I’m all about. Skipping steps here will result in sub-par fries.
Pre-heat your oven to 450F and set a sheet tray into the oven. Start by slicing the potatoes into batons – around 1/2″ square and the length of the potato. Place them in a bowl and cover with water. Allow the potatoes to sit for 30 minutes, so the starches can leach out. You can skip this step, they’ll just be less crispy. After they’ve soaked, rinse them and place them in a shallow pot. Cover again with water, bringing that about 1-2″ above the tops of the potatoes. Put a cover on top and set over medium-high heat for 10 minutes exactly. You don’t want them to come to a full rolling boil – if you see boiling, turn down the heat. The goal is to get them par-cooked and all the “crunch” taken out of them. They definitely won’t be cooked at this step.
Once 10 minutes have passed, drain the potatoes into a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer them to a big bowl and toss with salt and about 2 T of olive oil. Once they’re coated, remove the hot tray from the oven and dump the fries onto the pan. They’ll sizzle and spit a little bit – so be careful! Deftly spread the fries out with a spatula and roast undisturbed for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the pan and stir around the fries, trying to flip them over or onto a non-roasted side. Let them go for another 5 minutes and repeat the tossing. Altogether, you can roast these for 30-35 minutes. They’ll be roasty and brown, you’ll know when they’re done! Drain them onto some paper towels and reserve for the poutine.
For the Roasted Mushroom Gravy:
- 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms
- 4 oz. shiitake mushroms
- 1/2 c. sherry, red wine, or both – divided
- 2-3 springs of thyme
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 2-3 shallots
- 2 T butter
- 1 t balsamic vinegar
- 1 t soy sauce
- 1/2 t sugar
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1 1/4 c. water
- 2 T sour cream
- a handful of washed parsley
Start with steaming the mushrooms – set the oven to 325F. Quarter your mushrooms, dice 1 shallot, and 2 cloves of garlic. Toss with 1/4 c of wine, a drizzle of olive oil, and the sprigs of thyme. Transfer to a roasting pan and cover with foil. Set in the oven for 30 minutes so the mushrooms can steam and release their juices.
After 30 minutes, remove the foil from the top of the pan and drain the contents over a mesh colander to reserve the liquids and remove the sprigs of thyme. Reserve the liquids for the gravy. Up the oven temperature to 450F and return the pan with mushrooms to the oven. Let them roast for another 10-15 minutes. They’ll get nice and crispy and browned.
Then, it’s time to start the gravy! Mince the remaining shallot into a fine dice. Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium heat and add the shallots – cook until lightly browned. Then, add the reserved roasting liquids to the pan along with the balsamic, soy sauce, and remaining portion of wine. Reduce down until there’s just about 1/4 c liquid left in the pan. Mix the cornstarch, water, and sugar together and add to the pan. Finally, add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until thickened and remove from the heat. Off the heat, add minced parsley and sour cream – stir to incorporate.
For the Poutine:
- 1 potion of oven fries
- 1/2 c of cheese curds (cheddar)
- 1/2 c of mushroom gravy
If you’re cooking this dish as a main course for yourself, here’s the work flow: slice the potatoes and get them soaking, prepare the ingredients for the sauce, steam the mushrooms and par-boil the potatoes, drain the mushrooms and raise the oven temperature, finally roast the potatoes and mushrooms while crafting the sauce.
Place the fries on your plate, sprinkle with parsley. Dot the fries with cheese curds. Pour over gravy, first with a slotted spoon to ensure equal amounts of mushrooms get onto your plates then pour the sauce over. Dig in!
Putting sauces and meats on fries is seriously in my wheelhouse. You could take the “poutine” concept in a spanish direction or even a korean direction. The gravy – it can also make a cozy weeknight dinner. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days and would be amazing over roasted chicken thighs! One final note: cheesecurds are ample and available in the midwest but you might have a harder time finding them elsewhere. You could go for shredded cheese or even mozzarella pearls – some will cry that it’s not traditional, but I wouldn’t turn any of it down.