When I was a child, I remember my grandparents eating gross-looking gray potato blobs they called “putsins.” My grandfather was from Maine and spoke French. I have heard a rumor that every American who shares my unusual last name was a descendant of one guy and his four horny sons. Judging that both of my paternal grandparents had over a dozen siblings each, I tend to think the rumor is true.
These “putsins” they ate were an Acadian delicacy also known as poutine râpée. They are a combination of grated and mashed potatoes with chopped salt pork in the center, which are boiled for two and a half to three hours. Yum. I mean, yuck. I guess they are served with either ketchup or with maple syrup.
As I googled around to refresh this dim childhood memory, I was stunned, STUNNED, I say, at all the people who seemed to know about this dish. And there were plenty of recipes. We were actually able to talk to my grandparents over the summer about how to make putsins (as they pronounced it) and despite the grossed out memories of my childhood, we endeavored to have a go at making our own poutine râpée.
Not that long ago, we learned we had a cholesterol problem. I am using the Queen’s version of “we,” meaning, *I* have a cholesterol problem. But it’s quite likely that Dave may have a cholesterol problem also, since we eat pretty much the same thing. And he is also the man that dreamed up portlandpoutine.com. So if there was ever a case to use the royal “we,” this is it.
Part of my heritage is French Canadian, and it just seemed wrong that something like cholesterol could impede my ability to celebrate the food of my ancestors. Those brave French men and women who landed on the shores of New Brunswick after their long journey across the Atlantic, and warmed their hand around the, um, deep fryer.
There’s nothing we like more than a food related challenge, and we endeavored to discover if there was some way we could make poutine less bad for us. We knew there had to be a way.
The perfect dessert after a meal of poutine, no?
What you see above may very well be the first poutine ever cooked up in Elko, Nevada.
The creator of the concoction, Steve is originally from Portland, Oregon. He tried his first poutine a few months ago on a business trip to Vancouver, BC.
Gravy made from a roux and real beef or chicken stock is ideal for poutine, but when time is of the essence, or you just don’t have the ingredients handy, it’s nice to know you have a can or packet of gravy mix in the cupboard.
Look at that orange cheese! We had never seen cheese curds at Trader Joe’s before. And when I tossed them into the shopping cart, it made a certain Portland Boy very happy. We already had a seemingly bottomless supply of poutine gravy packets at home. We have used them for other dishes and they are actually quite tasty. And for the potatoes, we used a Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) recipe for “lighter” oven fries. But be ye not mislead. There was nothing light about any of this. It is unbelievably not light at all.
And could there be a better accompaniment to a Grey Cup party than poutine and beer?
Last year Andy and Québécoise Lynda invited us to their Grey Cup party. The game was held in Montreal, and the hometown team, the Allouettes, made it to the final. We would celebrate Canada-style: with Canadian beer and homemade poutine.