I spent a lot of time in the Ottawa Valley as a kid and teenager, and if there’s one thing I know the Valley does right, it’s poutine. I mean, any poutine in the Ottawa/Quebec area is going to be fantastic, but stop at a chip truck in the Valley and you will be treated to a delicious treat. Suffice it to say, I’m picky about poutine.
Around here, there is no such thing as cheese curds. There are “cheese curds” in the grocery store, which people who have never been outside of the area may think are cheese curds, but they’re not. They’re regular cheese cut into vaguely curd-like shapes. And, local “poutine” should rightfully be known as mozza fries because it’s just fries topped with shredded cheese topped with gravy.
(I’ve written this assuming everyone knows what poutine is, but for the non-Canadian/un-indoctrinated, it’s a delicious combination of fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy.)
So I hadn’t had a legitimate poutine in a long time. And, on top of that, poutine seems to have taken on a life of its own in the culinary world and all of a sudden there are restaurants and poutineries opening up all over the place offering all kinds of crazy variations on the classic. Meanwhile, I can’t even find cheese curd.
Luckily, my Dad brought up a few bags of curd on his last visit. Matt and I decided to make real poutine… and then I decided we should be adventurous and try making our own pulled pork poutine.
It was, admittedly, not as homemade as it could have been. I got the pork going in the crockpot and Matt cut and fried the potatoes himself, but we used pre-made barbecue sauce and gravy. Still, it was fantastic, in a completely gluttonous way.
We couldn’t figure out how the pulled pork should blend into the poutine — pork on top? Gravy over pork? No gravy, just pork? Together we settled on a layer of fries, then white curds and gravy, another layer of fries, yellow curds and gravy, pork, a few more yellow curds, and a tiny bit of gravy. I don’t think it really matters though, because it all turns into one big cheese-y, gravy-y, pork-y mess in the end.
Now that I’ve had a taste of real poutine again, I know I need to hit up a poutinerie. I just found out recently that there’s one in Winnipeg, Smoke’s, a franchise of a company started by a Valley native. Next time we’re in the ‘Peg I plan to eat a Hogtown Poutine (Double-Smoked Bacon, Italian Sausage, Sautéed Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions) and die of a heart attack.
Best/weirdest/most awesome poutine toppings: go!