Just when you thought you’d gotten over your french fry addiction, in walks smokey maple bacon poutine. If you haven’t had this stick to your ribs meal yet, you’re missing out. It’s time to put some poutine into your routine.
However, we’re taking it a step further by adding even more smokey flavor into the gravy. Plus, we’re balancing it out with some sweet bacon action.
Poutine in general is not complicated to make at all, but we’re going to discuss a bit about its history and what makes a great poutine.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF POUTINE
What is poutine?
In its most basic form, poutine is a savory dish of crispy french fries and cheddar cheese curds, covered with a brown, mostly beef-based gravy.
What really differentiates one poutine from another is the toppings. The possibilities are endless as to how you can spin these ingredients, and many variations exist from simple (like our smokey maple bacon poutine) to complex (e.g. fois gras poutine).
Where was poutine invented?
Let’s first clear up a common misconception. Poutine is widely known as a Canadian dish, but more specifically it’s a French-Canadian dish. It’s a symbol of Québécois culture, not Canada as a whole.
Where the name poutine originated
Poutine, pronounced poo-TIN in Quebec and poo-TEEN everywhere else, is a hybrid name. It’s said it comes from “Ti-Pout”, a nickname for a cook who worked at Le Roy Jucep (one of the first poutineries) and a slang word for “pudding”.
But it’s also attributed to a Québécois slang term for “mess”, since the addition of curds and gravy to french fries is quite messy.
Several restaurants in the Centre-du-Québec region claim to have invented poutine in the late 1950s-early 60s. These include the still operating Le Roy Jucep and Le Lutin Qui Rit, which is no longer in business.
From rural blue-collar comfort food to high-class cuisine
Poutine was once mocked by the rest of Canada, but has more recently spread in popularity amongst its provinces, the northern United States and beyond.
It was introduced to a wider audience in the 70s at La Banquise in Montreal. It eventually debuted at local Burger King franchises. The use of inferior cheese at some poutine vendors was off-putting and led to a decline in popularity.
Some Canadians express ambivalence toward the dish and its connotations. It has been suggested that poutine’s humble beginnings in rural snack bars, truck stops, and food trucks, and its use of cheese curds—which are often considered a typically small-town indulgence—make it indicative of working-class culture.source: britannica.com/topic/poutine/Cultural-significance-and-controversy
What changed poutine’s reputation?
Beginning in the 90s, chefs like David McMillan of Montreal’s Joe Beef began to expand the basic poutine concept from a roadside staple to something more exciting. In 2001 chef Martin Picard of Au Pied Cochon in Montreal debuted his poutine with fois gras.
Fusing high-end ingredients with this seemingly unsophisticated Quebec staple elevated poutine’s status among the foodie elite and has since been copied by chefs across Canada.
Now there are gourmet exotic poutines that include ingredients like lobster or caviar paired with artisanal cheeses and National Poutine Day is celebrated on April 11th in Canada.
Can I get poutine in the US?
Poutine has gained some traction in the northern US, but especially in some New England restaurants, where it’s only a short drive over the border to Quebec.
Additionally, poutine is associated with the US creation of disco fries from New Jersey. Made with fresh or shredded mozzarella, instead of cheese curds, disco fries are known for being a late-night drunk food. Will they have a renaissance the same way poutine did? We’re not sure.
But the good news is you don’t need to live up north to enjoy this cold weather comfort food. We’ve come up with an awesome bacon poutine recipe you can easily make at home.
HOW TO MAKE SMOKEY MAPLE BACON POUTINE
We wanted a poutine recipe that was relatively easy to put together any day of the week so we’re taking a few short cuts. The only real work involved is making the gravy and cooking your fries.
We’ve simplified this by using store-bought stock and frozen french fries. However, if you have the time to hand cut some fries and make your own stock ahead, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Making the Smoked Maple Brown Sugar Bacon for poutine
We’re going to balance out the savory and salty aspects of this dish with a little sweetness by first preparing some maple brown sugar bacon. About 9-12 strips will do nicely.
Here we used center thick-cut bacon, which left plenty of surface area to slather on brown sugar, maple syrup and pepper before going into the oven.
Making Poutine Gravy: Why it’s so good with bacon
What ingredients are used in our poutine gravy?
- Poutine gravy is typically a brown sauce made with beef and chicken stock or broth. More commonly there is a 2:1 ratio of beef to chicken stock, but you could add more beef stock for a darker, beefier flavored sauce.
- You can use homemade stock or store bought to make the gravy.
- This goes so well with bacon because we’ve added some molasses, liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce to season and brown the gravy.
- To thicken it, we’ve opted for rice flour and cornstarch instead of all-purpose wheat flour. It seems to make a lighter gravy on an already heavy meal. But feel free to switch to AP flour for your roux if you prefer.
- Make sure to make your cornstarch into a slurry with some of the stock and keep it very well mixed before pouring it into the gravy or it will clump up.
The best cheese for Smokey Maple Bacon Poutine
What are cheese curds?
- Cheese curds are essentially young, unaged cheddar. They are the separated byproduct of curdled milk during the cheddar cheese making process. The curds are sliced up and consumed immediately in contrast to mature cheddar, which can be aged for years.
- Fresh cheese curds are sometimes known as “squeaky cheese” because the curds rubbery texture make an audible squeak when bitten into. This squeak only lasts about 12 hours, and goes away as moisture is introduced, especially during refrigeration.
- The squeakiness has no bearing on the flavor or how well it melts. It’s simply a measure of freshness and it’s a fun novelty to hear the squeak if you’ve never tried it.
Where to buy cheese curds for smokey maple bacon poutine?
In the US, many Target stores with a grocery section sell them, but they’re typically not the fresh squeaky kind.
These work great, and we found that cutting these up and leaving out for 15 minutes at room temperature helped it to melt when the gravy is poured over.
Outside of Quebec, Wisconsin is the premier purveyor of cheese curds. For fresh cheese curds that squeak you’ll have to mail order them overnight delivery if you don’t live near any big cheese production areas. Here are some options we found:
What to use if you can’t find cheese curds
Because it melts well, fresh mozzarella is a good substitute. In fact, many poutineries will use a mix of cheese curds and mozzarella to have an optimal blend of partially melted and fully melted cheese.
The best french fries for poutine
It doesn’t get much better than hand-cut Russet potatoes, deep fried in beef tallow (if you can find it) or peanut oil. For poutine, deep frying the fries gives them the crispiness to hold up to all the wet gravy and cheese.
But don’t fret if you don’t have the time, a deep fryer, or the knife skills, yet. Store bought frozen french fries are still mighty tasty and you can prepare them in your oven or an air fryer.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe. As always, comments are welcome and encouraged!
Smokey Maple Bacon Poutine Recipe
Our smokey maple bacon poutine has everything: cheese, gravy, french fries and of course bacon! What more could you ask for in a poutine?
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 2–4 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: French-Canadian
For the brown sugar maple bacon:
- 9–12 strips center thick-cut hickory smoked bacon
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the gravy:
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp rice flour
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/3 cup beef stock
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1 tbsp chicken stock
- 2 1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 lb frozen or fresh hand cut french fries, deep-fried or air-fried. *
- 1 cup cheddar cheese curds or fresh mozzarella, cut into half inch pieces.
Make the bacon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place a wire rack inside a half baking sheet.
- Lay strips of bacon on rack and sprinkle with pepper and brown sugar on top side only, then gently press it in. Drizzle with maple syrup.
- Place baking sheet in oven for 25-30 minutes until bacon is crisp.
- Remove from oven and place on parchment paper to cool completely. Once cool, cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.
Make the gravy
- Combine the onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder in a small bowl.
- Combine the beef stock and chicken stock in a liquid measuring cup.
- In another bowl, combine the molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke.
- Set a medium saucepan to medium heat and melt butter.
- Once butter melts, whisk in the rice flour and keep whisking for about 2-3 minutes until it’s golden brown.
- Pour in the beef and chicken stocks in a steady stream while whisking. Add the onion, garlic and chili powders and continue whisking until gravy is reduced and slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Stir cornstarch slurry well (cornstarch + tbsp chicken stock) to make sure it hasn’t clumped and add it to gravy in a steady stream to combine.
- Stir in the molasses, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Add 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Taste the gravy and add more salt if needed.
- Whisk until gravy is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Turn heat down to low until ready to pour over fries and cheese curds.
Assemble the poutine
- * Place fries on a plate or a bowl
- Scatter cheese curds and bacon over fries.
- Pour gravy over fries and curds. Enjoy!
* Start frying or baking the french fries according to package directions when you start the gravy so that both are ready around the same time. 1 lbs. takes about 6-8 minutes in a deep fryer or 10-15 minutes in the oven from frozen.
Keywords: bacon poutine, poutine, french fries, gravy, cheese curds, smokey, maple