Tomorrow is the American Thanksgiving and I feel like all the Food Blogosphere is about indulgence food. The Canadian Thanksgiving is already behind us (and we don’t really celebrate it here, it’s mostly considered as a simple statutory holiday) but hey, I feel like it’s the opportunity for “usually healthy” Veggie Pawa to get a little bit crazy and talk about POUTINE (not the dictatorial russian kind, but the savoury, really indulgent Quebec kind).
Poutine is the real deal here in Quebec. I don’t even know what’s the reputation of poutine abroad. Do people even know it exists? I’ve heard it’s possible to find some late night in England, in some kind of food trucks… but I’m not even sure. What I can tell is that I once went in a French Canadian Restaurant in Toulouse, France (yeah, I was just kinda curious) and what they called poutine was a mixture of breakfast cubed potatoes, shredded cheese and maple syrup! WHAT!?! Can you believe it!? Well, maybe you can if you’re not from the Belle Province but, for us, it’s a real abomination! Fo real!
If you’re not familiar with what poutine is, well, it’s a meal made of french fries, cheese curds (commonly referred to as “squish-squish cheese”) and gravy. Not so healthy, nope. And, well, everything is kinda sacred about the poutine. Serving it with shredded cheese instead of the traditional squish-squish cheese is risky — to say the least —, using breakfast cubed potatoes instead of the french fries is a sacrilege, while using maple syrup instead of gravy is simply unbelievable, it’s even worth a major laugh.
Well, all this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to play with poutine! While some people really like poutine the traditional way, some others will replace the gravy by spaghetti sauce (it’s called “italian poutine”… kinda funny) and many are open to the idea of adding things on top of the poutine (meat, most of the time, but also vegetables). A classic addition is to add chicken and green peas : it’s called a “galvaude” poutine (no f*cking idea what “galvaude” means). As you can see, I kept the green pea addition in my version of poutine, but I obviously dropped the chicken.
In Montreal, one of the most popular places to eat poutine is a restaurant called “La Banquise”. It’s a 24h place that is packed almost all the time (mostly between 3 and 4 in the morning… did I mention that poutine is a huge hit among drunk people?). I was really happy to see that La Banquise would have a vegan poutine as their November poutine of the month! I guess that many vegans had their first poutine in years at this occasion! I, myself, didn’t have a restaurant poutine in a long time… such a long time that I didn’t even know that La Banquise has a vegetarian gravy on their regular menu! This is cool!I’m really happy that La Banquise made this vegan poutine — even though they commit the unthinkable by putting shredded faux-cheese on top of it (yep, shredded cheese is a real poutine faux-pas). But, hey, I have a secret for you : my version of the Vegan Poutine is even better! Now, I don’t deserve all the props cause I took this recipe on the web and simply veganized it all-over (cheese was already replaced by tofu*, but I put vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth). Being called the “Lefebvre family’s healthy poutine“, this recipe had a great success among francophone bloggers some years ago. I thought it was about time to translate it in english for the world to taste!
*You, Quebec readers, I can hear you scream behind your computer screens : “but will the tofu really taste like cheese curds???” and my answer is going to be “f*ck yeah!”… and no. The taste will really resemble the “cheese curds” taste… like, REALLY. It’s mesmerizing. But, of course, texture won’t be the same, and it won’t melt either. But hey, it’s vegan, it’s less fat but still protein packed, and it’s really delicious. So, I think it’s worth a try!
Serves 3 to 4
For the french fries :
- 14 potatoes or so, washed (about 4 pounds)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
For the “cheese curd” tofu :
- 1 bloc organic tofu (about 454 g)
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 3 tbsp salt (don’t panic, most of it will be washed off later)
For the fat free vegan gravy :
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 tbsp organic corn starch
- 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp sugar (or any other sweetener)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vegan worcestershire
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- Green peas (or any topping of your choice)
Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes — you can cut them in slices and then break them in cubes with your hands to give them irregular edges that resemble more the cheese curds. Put them in a plastic container with the lemon juice and salt. Toss them well and put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Cut the potatoes into french fries (keep the skin). I used a julienne slicer and it really was easier this way! All my fries were regular and cooked evenly. (I even thought I would not cut myself this time! It took my until the LAST potato stick to slice one of my fingers… arghh!!)
Put the potatoes on a baking sheet with the oil. Toss them well so there is oil everywhere on the plate and potatoes. Place the potatoes in a single layer. Use two baking sheets if necessary.
Cook about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are golden crisp.
Place all the gravy ingredients in a small cauldron. Bring to a boil and mix consistently with a whisk for 1 or 2 minutes, until the sauce really got thicker. Set aside.
If you want to use frozen peas, heat the amount you want in the microwave. I used 1/3 cup for two servings.
Rince and drain the tofu.
When the french fries are ready, prepare your plates (or bowls). For each serving, place 1/2 of the tofu you want in the bottom of the bowl, then, add the fries, then, the other 1/2 portion of tofu, and finally, gravy and other optional toppings!
You are ready to enjoy your lighter version of the poutine!
The fat-free sauce doesn’t taste 100% like the “real thing” but it’s so good!Being less fat than deep fried french fries, those oven baked goodies are just yummy!The ingredients, ready to be put together! I only made half a tofu block and half the fries cause we were only two, but I did all the gravy recipe… See at the end of the post what I did with the leftovers!Theo is fairly intrigued by the poutine. He even tried to put his nose on it! Bad boy!
Look at the easy lunch I did the next day with my gravy leftovers! Again with the traditional Quebec food : “Hot chicken” Vegan Sandwiches with Grilled tofu!