North meets South in this tasty Pulled Pork Poutine recipe. French fries topped with cheese curds, brown gravy and slow-smoked pulled pork make for a delicious appetizer or meal!
A lot of things changed when Laura and I moved from Atlanta to upstate New York. We had to buy snow boots. And we needed big ski jackets. And we needed boot trays at the doors to hold the aforementioned snow boots. These are all things you don’t need in Atlanta. It’s been 10 years now (time flies), but the move up the east coast has worked out. I’ve discovered curling. We have easy access to amazing maple syrup. Oh, yeah, and there’s the poutine.
I feel like poutine has become a bit more mainstream now that it was 10 years ago when we moved up here. Maybe that’s because we live ~2 hours from the Canadian border, and poutine is the national food of Canada. Either way, I decided it was finally time to make a batch of poutine at home.
What is poutine?
Poutine (pronounced poo-TEEN) is essentially a plate of french fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds. When I first heard about this dish, I admit that I was rather skeptical. Why would anyone pour gravy all over their fries? That meant fries went from a finger food to a fork food. (Have you ever tried eating poutine with just your fingers? I don’t recommend it.) In one of those early years, Laura had a work conference up in Montreal. I drove up and met her after her conference, and we spent a couple days exploring the city. We also tried poutine for the first time. One bite, and I was hooked.
According to legend, a chef in a small town north of Montreal was asked to put a handful of cheese curds into a take-out bag of french fries. His immediate response was, “It will make a damn mess!” He’s right. It does make a mess. A delicious mess. The dish became popular, and that same chef then started adding a spoonful of brown gravy to keep the fries warm. If the curds made a damn mess, I don’t even want to know what he thought about the addition of gravy!
Cheese curds are an essential part of poutine. Cheese curds (aka “squeaky cheese”) have been gaining popularity in recent years. When we first moved up here, we couldn’t find cheese curds easily in the grocery store. Now there are several options for curds at our major grocery stores.
So what are curds? Well, remember that old nursery rhyme about Little Miss Muffet sitting on a tuffet eating her curds and whey? The process of cheese-making produces both curds and whey. Curds are solids that are pressed into blocks and aged. The result? Cheddar cheese. So curds are essentially young, unaged cheddar cheese. The taste is a bit milder than cheddar, and the texture is different. However, curds are delicious. I highly recommend trying them if you see them in your store!
Pulled Pork Poutine
I’m a Southern boy living in upstate New York. Thus, it’s no surprise that I wanted to put a Southern spin on this classic Canadian dish. I know some of my Canadian readers might cringe at the idea of adulterating a classic poutine, but I’ve gotta say – it’s delicious! Poutine is tasty in its own right, but then add in some smoky, shredded pulled pork? Oh man, that’s a meal for the ages right there!
I make Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork regularly, and we always keep small bags in the freezer. You can also make pulled pork in a slow cooker. However, if you don’t want to go to the effort, a number of companies sell prepared pulled pork. Check in the refrigerated and frozen section of your grocery store. Alternatively, if you’ve got a good BBQ spot in town, they almost certainly will sell pulled pork. (I recommend using a non-sauced pulled pork. A pulled pork with BBQ sauce already mixed in would probably be fine, but it might fight the flavors of the brown gravy.)
All in all, if you’re looking for one heck of a delicious appetizer or meal, then keep an eye out for cheese curds. I promise you that one bite of this Pulled Pork Poutine won’t be enough!
Did you make this Pulled Pork Poutine at home? Leave a comment. Or better yet snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). Enjoy!
Pulled Pork Poutine
For the Gravy
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp water
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 shallot minced
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-sodium beef stock
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken-stock
- 2 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp black pepper
For the Poutine
- 1 26-oz. bag frozen thin-cut French fries
- 1½-2 cups cheddar cheese curds room temperature
- 2 cups prepared pulled pork
- 2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley for garnishing
For the Gravy
- Using a small bowl, add cornstarch and water; whisk together until well combined. Set bowl aside.
- Using a large saucepan, add butter and place over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add shallot and garlic. Saute, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes. Add flour; continue sautéing, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes or until mixture turns golden brown.
- Add beef stock, chicken stock, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper; stir until well combined. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, add cornstarch mixture. Using a whisk, stir until mixture is well combined.
- Continue cooking, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes, or until gravy thickens noticeably.
- Reduce heat to low to keep gravy warm.
For the Poutine
- Bake fries according to package directions. (If desired, use this recipe to make homemade boardwalk fries.) Note: I recommend baking fries several minutes longer than instructions to ensure they are extra crispy.
- Transfer fries into a large serving bowl. (Tip: A clean cast iron pan is a fun way to serve poutine!)
- If needed, increase heat on gravy to ensure it is hot. Pour several ladles of gravy over fries. Add most of cheese curds and pulled pork; use tongs to toss.
- Top with remaining cheese curds, pulled pork and another spoonful of gravy. Garnish with chopped parsley; serve immediately.
Looking for more french fry recipe ideas? Check out these other favorites, too!