How to Cook Poutine, Quebec’s Famous Dish

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An emblematic French Canadian meal, poutine was invented in the mid 1950s in rural Quebec–and no one agrees on who, exactly, came up with it first. But  one thing’s for sure: poutine is delicious. Here are tips on how to properly cook it at home.

First things first: What is poutine?

Poutine got more popular in the last few years, thanks to chefs such as Brian Henry and Martin Picard, who started treating it like the delicacy it truly is and brought it to a broader audience.  Poutine is quite simple and humble, and is just the assemblage of three ingredients: French fries and fresh cheese curds, topped with a thick, hot, tasty brown sauce. Voilà.

Cooking Poutine: The Fries

Ideally, you would pick Idaho or Russet potatoes: their taste and texture suits the poutine best. Cut them according to your preferences: I, for one, prefer small, crispy julienne fries, so I cut my potatoes in little sticks no larger than ¼ of an inch. But larger fries are good too. Fry your potato sticks in peanut oil until done.

The Cheese

Now this is a tricky one, for good cheese is key to great poutine. And cheese curds, for some reason, are not easy to find, depending on where you live. Here, in Quebec, you find them in almost every corner store, wrapped in little plastic bags. But elsewhere in Canada, it is not necessarily the case, and it is even worse in the States. Ask at your local cheese factory for information on where to get a hand on fresh cheese curds. Or, if you are up for it, you can even make your own.

In order to have the best poutine possible, the cheese online casino curds have to be extra fresh. How can you tell a fresh curds from a not-so-fresh one? A fresh one is looks kind of oily and squeaks notably when you chew it.

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Super Snacks: Banh Mi Waffle Fry Nachos

Banh Mi Waffle Fry Nachos

So, there’s like some sort of sporting event coming up soon.  I did some Googling and it turns out it is called the “Super Bowl.”  Huh.  Sounds like an excuse to make some fancy nachos to me.

I’m kidding. I know what the Super Bowl is.  And I know that nachos must be present.  Sometimes sandwiches are invited to the party, as well. These nachos are a reinterpretation of a banh mi, which is a Vietnamese sandwich of grilled meats and pickled vegetables.  But, since I have no bread in the house besides 45-calorie sliced bread (Thanks a lot, Sarah Lee, nobody does it like you, you know) and my pantry looks like a mystery basket from Chopped, I decided to do this thing.  I pickled vegetables.  That’s a phrase I’ve never uttered.  I also used my crockpot to make an Asian marinated pork loin.  Surely these things belong on waffle fries, sprinkled with cheese.

Yes, it was meant to be.

Banh Mi Nachos

Banh Mi Waffle Fry Nachos

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Top 10 New Foods at the 2012 State Fairs

Well, in regards to ridiculous overloads of novelty foods, it’s all downhill from here—state fair season is over for the year. We’ll have to wait for months before a stream of deep-fried, chocolate-covered, bacon-wrapped indulgences can once again make their appearance in our diets. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the most shocking new creations that made their debut onto the state fair food scene in 2012. Steel your arteries…

10. BIG Beef Rib – California State Fair

You’d think that a normal beef rib would contain enough animal flesh, but you would be wrong, and the California State Fair is here to prove it. They’ve jammed a giant 24-oz. steak ONTO a 17-inch beef rib bone. Why?! Because they can. (Photo: Cavegrrl.com)

9. Deep Fried Cotton Candy – Texas State Fair

We saw deep fried Kool-Aid and deep fried salsa at last year’s state fairs, so we should have known that cotton candy couldn’t be that far off. Pretty crazy, because it seems like the spun sugar would melt in the deep fryer. Life is full of mysteries. Not enough sweets for you? Don’t worry, this treat is served by a frozen yogurt purveyor, so feel free to use these giant balls of fried sugar as a topping on your froyo. (Photo: Cassie’s Frozen Yogurt)

8. Outlaw Stacker – Eastern Idaho State Fair

We all know that french fries are a great base for all kinds of toppings, and the Eastern Idaho State Fair really took that idea and ran with it. The Outlaw Stacker is a huge pile of fries smothered in gravy, bacon, and a fried egg. The name rings true—health and nutrition are truly outlawed in this dish. And we’re okay with that. (Photo: Eastern Idaho State Fair)

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The Endless Road Trip: Put Some Ink on It

These days, you don’t have to look far to find people serving their French fries with craziness like duck fat or rosemary salt or balsamic ketchup. Yes, the most plebeian of foods has gone gourmet. And not surprisingly, Portland wins this contest.

Foster Burger in SE Portland serves their perfectly-sized, crispy “black and white fries” with: died garlic, truffle oil, parmesan, and, for dipping..black squid ink aioli. Yes, these spuds are dipped in seafood spray. Brilliant. Ridiculous. Also, tasty.

Also on The Endless Road Trip: Portland
1. Porklandia
2. All That’s Euro is Not Trash
3. Salt and Straw
4. Blue for Breakfast

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The Endless Road Trip: Porklandia

Portland, Oregon may seem like the type of hippie-dippie place that knows its silken tofus from its seitan (and it is). But as I recently discovered, these hipsters also know their swine, from head to tail. Oregon is a serious pork-producing state, and Portland chefs get crazy/creative with pig parts of every variety. I ate my way through Porklandia so that you don’t have to.

At Tasty n Sons, nearly every dish, from salads to kimchi to chicken, comes with an egg on top (as god intended). It climaxes with this perfectly golden-brown, intensely crispy fried pork cutlet, served over spinach, with a soft fried egg for a crown.

The Woodsman Tavern is the first place I have ever been served a ham plate and then told the proper order in which to eat the hams, as if this was a fancy wine tasting—from most delicate to heartiest. Each one was prosciutto-thin, but with the full salty taste of a good ol’ Virginia-style baked ham.

Don’t forget the ears! At Whiskey Soda Lounge, a casual spot from acclaimed Pok Pok chef Andy Ricker, they’re stewed in 5-spice and deep-fried until crisp, served with a black vinegar dipping sauce. They’re crusty on the edges and chewy in the middle, with the texture of…well, ear.

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The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 8. Endless Porker

I am normally extremely skeptical of any Mexican food that is billed as high-end, farm-table, or just generally cooked by white people. It’s not that Mexican food can’t be creative or fancy, it’s just that in my experience I have found “modern Mexican” to generally mean smaller tacos, higher prices, and less flavor than the taco trucks (and of course — the dreaded no free chips and salsa).

So of course I was hesitant when I head that San Diego’s hot taco spot of the moment is Carnitas Snack Shack, a new venture from Chef Hanis Cavinserves (red alert – chef!) that serves slow food-inspired, pork-centric American cuisine, snacks and locally sourced craft beers. But then again, I’ve never turned down any meal described as pork-centric. I’m almost embarrassed to report that this was the best taco I ate in California.  Slow-cooked salmon creek farm pork carnitas are layered on fresh, hearty homemade tortillas and topped with a vividly green mound of guacamole. The crispy-on-the-edges, melty on the insides strands of pork are like a weird, amazing fusion of southern BBQ and traditional Mexican. Fine, maybe Mexican food is allowed to get inventive after all.

But that was only the begining of a pork party that would know no bounds…

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