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.
We already knew how to make our own oven fries. We started with cute little taters and cut them up into thin wedges. We used 3/4 lbs potatoes = 240 calories (0 fat). Instead of using lard or duck fat as the traditional recipe requires, we used a tablespoon of canola oil. Canola oil is the least bad vegetable oil. One tablespoon canola oil, is 124 calories, 13 grams fat, one gram saturated fat.
For some reason, Dave has probably more than a lifetime supply of poutine gravy mix. He has a friend that brings him gravy packets every time she visits Montreal. If we ever have to live through nuclear war, the second coming, or a zombie infestation, we will certainly not lack for poutine gravy.
The strange thing is that this gravy is vegetarian. It’s made with soy material, vegetal material and brown stuff. And it’s pretty tasty. You dump it in a pan and add water and stir. 1 cup poutine sauce = 60 calories (0 fat)
Next was figuring out the cheese and this was going to be harder. Cheese is just inherently not good for you. Normally, the cheese curds sort of make the dish but they are so bad for you. It’s a goddamned conundrum.
We didn’t want to try any sort of fake cheese or non dairy cheese. We are trying to be healthy, but we didn’t want eating this to be torturous. So we opted for a block of part skim mozzarella. It wasn’t going to have the squeak of cheese curds, but it was going to melt really nice. Two oz part skim mozzarella = 180 calories (12 grams total, 7 grams saturated)
Here’s our fries, getting toasty in the oven. These are the easiest thing in the world to make. You don’t need pre-made frozen fries. You can make them yourself. And then you know what’s in them. And you can feel superior and self righteous.
Look at these! Professional!
I should say that when I say “we” when describing the cooking in this post, it really means “Dave.” But “we” is such a handy phrase.
Below, we have assemblage action. Hot fries, cheese cubes, and hot gravy.
Often, people miss and important step at this point. Yes, you can start eating right now.
But it’s better to cover the whole plate and let the heat melt the cheese into the gooey lumps it was meant to be. You don’t want chewy cheese, do you? The answer is no. You don’t want chewy cheese. You want melty cheese.
Here’s the money, right here. Fricken yum, people.
We added fresh parsley, because we like to be dainty. It was totally edible. Delicious, even. Even kind of fun. It was a decent, meal-sized amount. Here was our estimated calories for this dish, which we shared: 600 calories, 25 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat. For comparison, here is the dietary info for a small serving of poutine from McDonald’s in Canada. Or here is one from Burger King. Holy crap, they are trying to kill us.
Ours was largely guilt free. Somewhere in our ancient, lizard brain, we might realize, “There’s no duck fat up in here!” But we must temper our lizard brains, because we are no longer running across the tundra with spears, trying to catch our dinner.