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healthy poutine? [Moved from Quebec]

is there such thing as a healthy (or healthier) version of poutine that doesn't stray far from the original?

yeah, I know that's like asking for healthy buffalo wings or chicago deep dish pizza.......maybe something with roasted fries instead of fried. lower fat cheese. lower fat gravy? hmm?


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  1. aux vivre does a vegan take on it with potato wedges

    1. Personally, I'm looking for low-fat foie gras.

          1. I know you can find low/er fat versions of the required ingredients but...some time one has to ask ones self is it worth it? Personally as someone who has had their share I have to say no.

            It’s along the lines of non-alcoholic wine or a three-wheeled car.

            1. oh my god, i just had my first real poutine last night (i'm visiting montreal this weekend), and i don't think there's a way to recreate this masterpiece by reducing the fat of any of the ingredients at all . . . i agree with withnail42 -- it's like eating yogurt cheese or decaf coffee. gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

              1. I'd say ignore the nay-sayers and go for it. You can't "ruin" poutine, IMHO. It's already an act of ruination when you take perfectly good french fries (and Quebec can make the best) and make them a soggy mess.

                1. The good thing about Poutine-besides its great. Its made with cheese curds(curds are a lower fat cheese) and with french fries that are blanched in water(lowers starch and no coating to add more fat) And the Gravey is more of a "stock" that is better for you. Its not the best thing for you but if you compare it to chili fries in the USA, its a HEALTH food.

                  1. Is the gravy on poutine made with meat stock? I was hoping to try it when I got to Montreal but am a vegetarian...

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: saturninus

                      The dictionary definition of gravy is 'A sauce made by thickening and seasoning juices that drip from cooking meat'. Admittedly a gravy made from a commercial soup or gravy base may substitute hydrolized soy protein for most of the meat derivatives. If I were a vegetarian, I'd stay away from anything gravy-like unless it were made by a dedicated (certified?) vegetarian restaurant.


                      1. re: paulj

                        Um, this is Quebec we're talking about, paulj, so English dictionary definitions of the English word gravy don't have much relevance. The word the French use for the liquid poured on poutine is *sauce*. Originally it was a smooth chicken-based vélouté sauce. These days the standard version at some non-vegetarian establishments is meat-free. While your point is well taken, you might as well warn the OP to ask whether the fries are cooked in beef tallow and what kind of rennet is used to make the cheese curds.

                        1. re: carswell

                          So it's a light colored sauce? Admittedly I've only had a poutine-like dish on the west coast (BC), where the sauce was darker. I take it, then that a high class establishment wouldn't use a sauce espangnole?

                          1. re: paulj

                            It's usually a BBQ chicken gravy...whether it actually has meat byproducts or not. (I strongly suspect most do, albeit most likely reconstituted from a powder.)

                            However, some if not all of the poutines at Ail Y'Ail Y'Ail are made with a garlic-cilantro sauce without thickeners. Odd as it sounds, it works surprisingly well. The fries start off quite crisp, so they do get soggy, but they still hold their form and texture better than you would expect.

                            The feature poutine there (an insane concoction with mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp and calamari) has bacon in it, but they're very accommodating. I bet a veg option is possible, if not already on the menu.

                            1. re: paulj

                              >>It's usually a BBQ chicken gravy<<

                              I'm only too happy to defer to your expertise, Mr. P. That said, "gravy" here isn't used in the sense of a sauce made from thickend pan drippings, right? And it's probably wise to point out that "BBQ chicken" here is Quebec-speak for rotisserie chicken, no? And isn't or wasn't the traditional sauce the *sauce brune* used on hot chicken -- or should that be 'ot chicken -- sandwiches?

                              Yours importunately,
                              the poutine virgin (and proud of it)

                              1. re: paulj

                                Unlike Mr. Carswell I cannot claim to be a poutine virgin but I feel kind of.... dirty.

                                I can point out, though, that even before poutine was supposedly invented by Fernand Lachance, patrons (especially my sister) at Guy's Diner in Massena, NY (a stone's throw from Quebec) had the habit of ordering fries with chicken gravy on them. I suppose the "genius" was adding cheese curd.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  [in reply to Gary]

                                  Well, yeah. Without the curds it's just frites-sauce, which has been around since, like, forever. Wouldn't be surprised if the Iroquois served it to Cartier.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Actually, poutine sauce is pretty far from BBQ sauce (the rôtisserie chicken gravy I mean). It's rather an evolution from the hot chicken sauce that has modified with various spices and slighty thicker consistance.

                                2. re: paulj

                                  I guess I'll have to defer to Campofiorin (who is apparently not a poutine virgin). My problem, if you can call it that, is that I haven't had standard rotisserie-chicken gravy in years. About once a month, when I have poutine, I'm reminded of the stuff...but I do admit that I've never had them side-by-side that I can remember.

                                  However, I'm standing by my story that all of these products are intended to resemble gravy made from thickened pan drippings, even if the results are not especially close to the real thing. :)

                                  1. re: Mr F

                                    Just try St-Hubert BBQ and then go for poutine, it'll become obvious. ;-) But if you don't feel like hitting the restaurant, just make a dash for cans section at your local store buy one of each. BBQ gravy tends to be orange and have some zing whereas poutine sauce is thicker, brown and a little bit more salty.

                                    1. re: Campofiorin

                                      Surely one can order a side of poutine to go with one's St-Hubert chicken...or is it a side order of chicken to go with the poutine? :)

                                      Anyway, I'll take your word for it. There are some places even I won't go in the name of science, and St-Hubert, after too many meals there in my youth, is one of them. That includes sampling cans of gravy bearing the smiling rooster. (And why IS that bird smiling?)

                                3. [in reply to carswell a few posts up]

                                  I think this kind of gravy is indeed intended to resemble thickened pan drippings (as interpreted by a cook who *adores* corn starch), but you'll have an awfully hard time finding a place that actually uses thickened pan drippings. Rather, it's almost always something much like the manufactured & reconstituted stuff served at St-Hubert. And, yes, we should of course remember that BBQ generally means rotisserie here.

                                  Not that I'm an 'ot chicken aficionado, but I believe that the very same goopy brown stuff is what's poured over your Wonderbread and canned peas.

                                  And if you think none of this is related to "gravy" in the English sense of the word, then you've clearly never been subjected to the joys of Bisto. (In which case congratulations are in order.)

                                  1. Does this mean that with an simple order to 'Always Canadian' for a can St-Hubert, any Wisconsin cheese head could have genuine poutine? Any cheese used as a substitute for curds?


                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: paulj

                                      According to your link, either St-Hubert product will do the trick as long as you remember to select "poutine" from the pull-down menu.

                                      There are no substitutes for curds...the "squeak" of curds, which they retain even after contact with hot fries and gravy, is part of the attraction. If you can't find curds (which are essentially fresh mild cheddar), look for a mild cheese that holds up reasonably well under heat. Don't grate it, cut it into cubes.

                                      But wouldn't Wisconsin be one of the few U.S. states where curds can be found?

                                      1. re: Mr F

                                        >>But wouldn't Wisconsin be one of the few U.S. states where curds can be found?<<

                                        Some Cheesehead on another Chowhound board mentioned them recently, so yeah. And I first encountered them in upstate NY in the '70s, so they're not a purely Quebec phenom (though being able to buy them at the convenience store may be).

                                        1. re: carswell

                                          We got them here in Vermont, though I must say they don't have the wonderful squeak of the Quebec product.

                                          1. re: carswell

                                            New York State has been producing excellent cheese curd for generations. It's very similar to the Quebec variety, which isn't surprising, since a lot of the milk comes from around Chateaugay, NY near the land boundary with Quebec. When I was growing up every local dairy in St. Lawrence County made it, always on Thursday, and that's when we got it. Now there's an Amish creamery in Heuvelton NY called "Heritage Cheese" which makes it daily, sometimes TWICE daily. It's meant to be eaten out of hand, as fresh as possible, not melted nor, God forbid, deep fried!

                                            Wikipedia offered a quote from the New York Times that cheese curd squeaks "like baloons attempting to neck." I don't find your poutine squeaking like that.

                                            1. re: Gary Soup

                                              The cheese curds Martin Picard uses at Au Pied de Cochon squeak. Although he loses points with the Montreal Poutine website people because they feel his curds are too big.

                                              The Times quote does seem an exaggeration. The squeak is more the sensation of your teeth biting through the curd than it is the sound produced.


                                              1. re: Gary Soup

                                                rcianci, that is interesting. I definitely have noticed that the curds sold near the Jean-Talon Market (Hamel, and another place on the west(?) side of the market) seemed quite tiny compared to the upstate NY style, though similar in color and flavor. Maybe Picard gets "country style" curds.

                                                1. re: Gary Soup

                                                  The Montreal Poutine site is quite instructive. It sounds as though the curds are the critical part, though there was also mention of ementhaler and gorgonzola.

                                                  I've had some fresh Mexican style cheese the squeaks a bit. That might go well with the mole sauce that some mention. Though that starts overlapping with nachos.

                                                  Anyone tried an Indian version, with paneer?


                                            2. re: paulj

                                              Cheddar cheese curds are best, very fresh ones that squeak between your teeth.

                                              1. re: rcianci

                                                as somebody else pointed out, the amish make cheese curds and they are often for sale in their stands in NY farmers markets.

                                                Either fresh mozzarella or hispanic queso fresco make very good substitutes if you cant get the curds.

                                            3. you will all hate me but my guilty pleasure is that i adore burger king poutine

                                              1. Now that you've said that, I have to go and try it! Definitely avail. only in Quebec BKs I'd think. loving all the poutine confessions!

                                                1. I think you can make a decent fake poutine with healthier ingredients - oven fries, veggies gravy, lowfat cheese (or less of the regular).

                                                  But it won't be poutine, just like a veggie burger isn't a hamburger. It can be good, maybe just as good, but it's still not the original.

                                                  1. Healthy Poutine: Eat less of it :)