The Collins English Dictionary defines the word ‘Poutine’ as being of Canadian French in origin and meaning, “a dish of chipped potatoes topped with curd cheese and a tomato based sauce”. This is nothing like the Poutine that I have tasted, as the gravy sauce I have tasted is like brown gravy that goes very well with meat dishes, only a little sweeter in taste. Tomato based sauce did not come to mind.
Historically speaking, there seems to be general agreement that Poutine was invented in rural Quebec, in or about the 1950s but the exact creator seems to be in dispute. There are three main contenders for the originating poutine, from Le Lutin qui rit in Warwick, of the Arthabaska region being the most popular one, where it is claimed that in or about 1957, a client named Eddy Lainesse asked the owner of the restaurant, Le Lutine qui rit to mix cheese curds with the fries.
The second story is that a restaurant in Drummondville, in 1964 created the Poutine when it’s owner, Jean-Paul Roy decided to serve poutine on its menu, as ‘French fries, cheese and gravy’ and he also registered a trade mark to this effect, for his restaurant Le Roy Jucep.
The more logical reason that may have led to the creation of Poutine, could have been due to the high number of cheese dairies producing cheddar cheese curds in the regions of Nicolet, in Centre-du-Quebec or from Saint-Hyacinthe in Monteregie. Saying that, it could also have been the restaurant La P’tite Vache, which was close to the Princesse cheese dairy farm, where it is alleged that they had to find a creative way to sell their cheeses.
Whatever the historical reasoning or inventor behind this glorious dish, it is now famous across the world as one of the most ‘Canadian’ dishes to enjoy, and its original recipe is said to have a 50% ratio of fries and cheese, before the gravy was added.
In 2015, when I went to Montreal for the Food Bloggers Conference, there were two things we absolutely had to have. One was a proper French Canadian Poutine and the second was bagels (that’s for another story!). At the end of the conference, a group of us walked for a long time to get to a famous poutine restaurant, only to find that the queues to just get a seat at the restauran was running out of the store into the street. I never got to try the Poutine in Montreal, as I had a flight to catch and bagels to pick up!
So poutine had to be made at home, my style! I created a Chicken Bacon Poutine (shown below) which started off with crispy, hand cut fries that were double fried to crispiness, with a lot of cheese curds, topped with rotisserie chicken and bacon before the gravy went on top.
My favourite poutine, was the Butter Chicken Poutine which I had created whilst I was in Alberta, and my husband was running a small cafe, and it became extremely popular. The Butter Chicken Poutine was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who tasted it, and quite a few food bloggers from Calgary loved it. This was also made using double fried chunky potato fries that had been hand cut, topped with fresh paneer crumbles and then Butter Chicken on top. This is definitely not the traditional poutine, but it is one that you will be addicted to once you have tried it!
To make the traditional poutine gravy, you would need to add a little bit of tomato ketchup and some crushed tomatoes to your normal brown gravy to get the desired sweetness in the gravy to make the perfect poutine gravy. A lot of black pepper seems to work very well in there too!