Weekend cooking: Poutine – unanswered questions


Carin from A Little Bookish who already gave me the idea to my Marmite test last week mentioned Poutine on twitter a couple of days ago. Right, I have heard of Poutine before and was always wondering about it. It is supposed to be delicious, if slightly unhealthy, but we will leave the health concerns out of this.

So, today I need the help of Canadians and other Poutine lovers. What better opportunity than the weekend cooking. We had a long discussion about the ingredients of Poutine. Some say it can be made with cheese, others insist on cheese curds.

  • What kind of cheese? Mozzarella or another kind? I suppose it has to have the ability to melt, poutine1 right?
  • The dictionary translates cheese curds as “Quark”, but somehow I can’t see Quark being used. Judith suggested it might be cottage cheese, which seems to be a bit closer from the looks of it, but is it really? I have no idea! There is no other translation for cheese curds, so I have no clue what to buy. What exactly IS cheese curds?
  • Can you buy cheese curds in the shop? What does it look like exactly? Can I make Poutine with cheese instead or is that a deviation?
  • About the gravy:  Has anybody ever had Poutine with vegetarian gravy? Is that a sacrilege?

I want to re-create the Poutine experience but maybe need to adapt it a bit to European circumstances. Thanks already for any tips and hints. I need all the help I can get.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Poutine sign image by sashamd on flickr.  

23 Comments Write a comment

  1. Yay Poutine! I live in Quebec where Poutine is a food group. I even ate one last night, so I will try to answer your questions 🙂

    Cheese: you need the cheese curds that come in small packages, not hard cheese. It’s usually cheddar and white. Here is a pic.

    Do not use cottage cheese! I hope my description helped. Usually you can find cheese curds (here, anyways) in small packages sitting outside of the fridge area in a grocery store (not cold). If you go to a place that has a lot of cheeses you should find it. A cheese curds is the youngest type of cheese, so I’m sure cheese places outside Canada can make them.

    Theoretically you could use shredded cheese if you can’t find this, I would stick with a mild cheddar, white if possible. It won’t be exactly the same, but it can provide you with something similar.

    A note on gravy. You might be surprised to know that poutine gravy isn’t really gravy as we anglophones like to think. It’s not what you put on mash potatoes on Thanksgiving. It’s a special type of sauce that goes on poutine, usually brown and the consistency of gravy. In Quebec they don’t call it gravy but “sauce”. It’s made from chicken or veal or turkey stock but it’s not the exact same as thanksgiving gravy. Here in Canada you can buy specially made poutine sauce in cans but since you can’t, you’re going to have to use gravy. I suspect vegetarian is fine, I think that the only one not used is beef so you’re good there.

    I found a great webpage on the subject: http://www.montrealpoutine.com/recipes.html

    You’d want to use the Volute sauce recipe It uses chicken stock but you can substitute for vegetarian. It also shows cheese curds and describes them 🙂

    So I think this comment is long enough, hehe. If you have anymore questions just ask and also, tell me how the poutine goes 🙂


    • Ah, Lisa, you are now my Poutine heroine. Thank you very much for your detailed comment, that will help tremendously. I will have a look around for cheese curds in one of the larger grocery stores.
      Also thanks for the link about the gravy or sauce. I really appreciate it. Seems I am a step closer to my Poutine experience now. 🙂


        • Lisa, I don’t see anything wrong with that combo. Why someone would be surprised about eating Poutine I don’t know. They should come over to Germany and taste some of our typical German cuisine. Now THERE are things that make your stomach churn.
          I think that Poutine will taste absolutely yummy.


          • Wait, so the cheese curds are not refrigerated? I have trouble finding them in my grocery store as well and I want to try it too! There’s a place in town that sells Texas-i-fied poutine and it doesn’t look like any of the poutine pictures I’ve ever seen so that’s out. I want to try to make something that looks like the real stuff (sadly, I’ve only passed through the Montreal airport so far–I’ve heard you have to go to Quebec for the best poutine ever).

            I’m going to try the health food grocery store to see if I can find some white cheddar curds, but so far, I haven’t been able to. I’ll check out that website you listed too! I’m on a mission just like Rikki! hehehe

          • From what I’ve seen, cheese curds (the freshest, anyways) are not usually in the fridge at the store. Most often I see small packages of them on the cashier counters in grocery stores, like with the chocolate bars and stuff. But that’s probably just Quebec because we eat this all the time. Sometimes I find them on the sides of displays, usually around snack food because they are in small individual packages.

            If you tried a more cheese-oriented store you might find them in different spots. I would ask the employees because if they aren’t that popular the curds might be a hiding spot lol.
            Lisa (starmetal oak)’s last post ..Review- Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

    • Lisa, another question came to mind today.
      When you serve it, are the cheese curds put on the fries cold? And then the hot sauce put on top? Won’t the cold curds cool down the whole dish considerably. Or do the curds get heated up slightly first?


  2. I have heard of it, seen it in fact, but never tasted it or made it. Surly there is a poutine expert out there!


  3. Very interesting to discover a new food. Thanks to Lisa for the link and pictures showing poutines and cheese curds, etc. I’d love to try these combinations of potatoes and cheese. Sounds delicious.


    • I thought exactly the same thing today, Judith. I found another German word for curds – Käsebruch. I don’t think you can get it in the grocery store but you might in a special cheese shop. So I am going to inquire.

      I also found a German forum where someone from Switzerland posted about vegetarian poutine (he knew the dish from a vacation in Canada). He said that he did not find Käsebruch in Switzerland, which is a bad sign seeing the Swiss produce so much cheese. He uses Mozzarella instead.

      But I will definitely try.


  4. Hi Rikki,

    I had never heard of Poutine, until I read your post.

    Here in the south of UK, we are familiar with ‘cheesy chips’, which are chips (french fries), covered in melted cheese, usually just a regular cheddar cheese.

    In the north of UK, chips (french fries) are sometimes served with gravy.

    But I haven’t heard of anywhere, where they serve gravy and cheese together.

    I’m not sure that it would be to my taste, but hey! I would try anything once!!


    • Yeah, why not combine the two. I think it sounds delicious. My husband is from the North of UK and I get the impression chips go with everything. The first time I heard of a chip butty I was like, “What???” lol.


        • Chips are French Fries and a butty is a sandwich. A chip butty is two slices of sandwich bread with an amount of chips in between. If you are especially lucky you get tomato sauce (ketchup) on top of the chips.
          Sounds yummy, eh?


  5. Great discussion. I live in Ontario and the curds here are different than those in Quebec, but I suppose they are reasonable. they don’t tend to melt as much as a shredded cheddar but are very stringy. When we make them at home I buy canned poutine gravy when I can find it, but my kids are happy with whatver I put out for them.

    Sure it’s not the healthyiest, but then again, we don’t eat it every day. It is something that we enjoy introducing our visitors to. There is a vendor in St. Jacobs that makes pretty good poutine and serves it up in a box similar shape to the chinese take out boxes that they show on tv shows (though I have never had chinese take out actually served in those boxes).
    Heather’s last post ..Recipe Thursday – Beef and Lentils


    • It’s a pity we can’t get poutine ready made over here. It sounds like a dish the Germans would enjoy. We like fries, we like gravy and I am sure the curds add a great touch.

      As for those boxes. Here the Chinese take away never is served in those cardboard boxes but rather in styrofoam boxes. Until recently I had never seen those cardboard boxes before. Funnily, now the Turkish take aways started to put “Döner boxes” together though, and they are made from cardboard.


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