By Stephen Hilton
It is very easy for Michiganders to forget that Canada is right next door. It’s a completely separate country with its own government, people and way of doing things just a few minutes away. Although we continue to flood their airwaves and culture with American music, products and ideas, Canada has given us some great gems of their own as well. Hockey for example continues to rile up diehard fans and Canadian comedians like Dan Aykroyd, John Candy and Mike Myers have become staples in American television and movies.
Canada’s Best Kept Secret
Even with the spread of Tim Horton’s there are still a few secrets that Canadians have kept for themselves. Arguably the biggest secret Canada is keeping from America is the delicious dish of poutine, pronounced (pu.tin) in its native Quebec. When I first tell other Americans about my favorite Canadian delicacy they are strangely repulsed. poutine is basically a bed of French fries covered in cheese curds and then dosed in brown gravy. For some reason Americans don’t think gravy and French fries go together, but why not? Mashed potatoes and gravy go together and fries are potatoes so why not take the next step and deep fry the potato. We already have a similar dish called chili cheese fries. Just replace the chili with gravy and the nacho cheese with real cheese and you get an even better greasy snack.
The one problem with preparing poutine in America is the ingredients to make it are almost non-existent. Cheese curds are hard to find as well as the correct gravy. There are a few locations in Metro Detroit with their own recipes like Green Dot Stables on 2200 West Lafayette in Detroit you can try. For those who want to make their own I have devised an American poutine which can be made from products at any supermarket.
The first thing is finding cheese curds if possible. The only store I can find within the Metro Detroit area is the Michigan State dairy store. If East Lansing is too far you can pick up some mozzarella cheese. Then find thick dark gravy. Chicken and turkey gravy is too thin but beef or pork work nicely. Finally get some of your favorite fries. Traditionally the fries should be thick but any fast food or frozen fries will do. Seasoned fries also compliment the gravy well.
Once you have the three ingredients, dump the cooked fries into a large oven safe bowl or dish. Throw the cheese curds or cut up mozzarella all over the fries and broil in the oven. While broiling, heat up the gravy. When the cheese starts to melt and bubble take it out and pour the hot gravy all over it. For advanced poutine chefs you can add bacon as well as a hint of maple syrup onto the top. Then all you have to do is take a fork and enjoy.
Spread The Word
True Canadians may be appalled by said poutine recipe but this is an easy way to do it in America. I hope you try real poutine in Canada if you get the chance, but for now warm up this winter with a plate of delicious homemade American poutine.
Stephen Hilton is the Community Affairs intern for CBS 62 and CW50 in Detroit for the fall term 2012. I have an appetite for telling stories with video and having a great time doing it when I am not boating in the summer or skiing in the winter.