Dear Quebec, thank you so much for poutine. The recipe for poutine is simple: fry potatoes perfectly, dot a dish of them with cheese curds and pour the hottest, brownest, thickest gravy you can find over the whole mess. This Canadian dish is the kind of thing you crave in winter, which makes sense, as Quebec in winter is one of the coldest things I can think of.
Growing up in New Mexico, I had never heard of poutine. In fact, cheese curds are noticeably absent there as well -- I only got to meet them when we traveled to a family vacation house in upstate New York. Thankfully, I live in New York now, which means that my access to both cheese curds and poutine has increased exponentially. As pointed out by Burger Business, poutine has sort of taken America by storm in the last five years or so, popping up on restaurant and bar menus left and right. And just like we do with every imported food destined to become an American regional favorite, we put a bunch of other stuff on top of it.
At Brooklyn's Corner Burger, you can get traditional poutine, another Quebecois favorite that adds roasted chicken and green peas, or you can go all American-weirdo style on it. They're topping their poutine with everything from goat cheese to pulled pork to feta, olives and oregano. Oh, and you can involve curly fries if you want.
Although significantly more traditional, my favorite poutine in New York resides at the Brooklyn outpost of Mile End. Montreal ex-pats Noah and Rae Bernamoff top their poutine with the house-smoked meat -- the signature item of their Quebec-grown Jewish deli turned Brooklyn darling. The best thing about Mile End's poutine is their understanding that the cheese curds should be large, plentiful and squeaky.
Out in Cleveland, The Greenhouse Tavern offers Animal Style Frites, which involve bacon, two fried eggs, whole grain mustard, mozzarella cheese curds and the obligatory brown gravy.
These regional takes on poutine are amazing for a few reasons: 1) this dish lends itself to interpretation, toppings, and can really be paired with any regional cuisine with great success (hey New Mexico, where's my green chile poutine?), and 2) we have all agree to play fair somehow in that no matter how we tinker with our poutine, it must contain fries, cheese and gravy. Even if we never agree on anything else again in this country, we agree on that. Maybe Congress should eat more poutine?
Do you have a favorite poutine topping in your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments!