Here's Why I'm Stealing Poutine from Canada and Having It for Breakfast
There may be no more iconic Canadian dish than the famous poutine, which was originally developed in Quebec, and is now widely available across the country. And it is a dish worth celebrating. With its base of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds and a savory brown gravy, poutine is a demi-French take on chili cheese fries. Over the years, chefs have created their own versions, upping the ante with everything from duck confit to foie gras.
The idea of topping fried potatoes with a gravy and some savory nuggets led me to my own version, which is one of my favorite brunch dishes. This is the breakfast dish to bust out when you have houseguests of the sort who keep you up until the wee hours getting into the wine (in other words, poutine is also a great hangover cure).
How to turn Canadian poutine into a delicious breakfast and brunch dish
Let's begin at the base. For breakfast, use tater tots instead of French fries; they stand up to the gravy and still retain a bit more bite than fries (that said, you can absolutely use French fries if you prefer). For the gravy, instead of the classic brown gravy of the original, go for a southern-style sausage gravy. Retain the cheese curds (look for white cheddar curds), then top with eggs done in the style you or your guests prefer. I like mine scrambled, but both fried and poached eggs have made appearances with equal success.
I tend to fancy mine up at the end with chopped chives or parsley, just to bring a little freshness to the party, but that is optional. If you cannot source cheese curds, you can substitute cubed cheese or the mini fresh mozzarella perline.
How to make Breakfast Poutine
Dear Canada, I'm not sorry to borrow this amazing local food! Here's the recipe:
1 30-ounce bag of frozen tater tots
1 recipe sausage gravy (see below)
8 ounces white cheddar cheese curds, or other cheese curd of your choice
2 eggs per person, cooked in the style of their preference
Chopped chives or parsley to garnish (optional)
1. Cook the tater tots according to package directions until really crisp and deeply browned. Salt them lightly as soon as they come out of the oven and transfer to a casserole dish.
2. Scatter the cheese curds around with the tots evenly, so that they begin to soften, then top the whole thing with generous drizzles of the sausage gravy. You don't want the poutine swimming in the gravy, but there should be enough to get at least a little in every bite.
3. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley or both.
4. Let your guests serve themselves their preferred portion of poutine, and then top with the eggs of their choosing. Serve with any extra gravy on the side, and a bottle of hot sauce for guests to spice up their servings.
8 ounces pork breakfast sausage in loose form or tubes, but not in casings
¼ cup all-purpose flour
18 ounces whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes or dash hot sauce (optional)
1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage meat over medium high heat until it is cooked through with no pink showing, is browned and crisp on the outside, and well-crumbled.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage meat to a bowl, reserving all the fat in the pan.
3. Add the flour to the fat, stirring to combine, and cook for about 1 minute to 90 seconds to toast the flour and get rid of the raw flour taste.
4. Once the flour and fat mixture is well cooked, slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent clumping, and cook until thickened to a gravy consistency.
5. Add the cooked sausage meat back into the gravy, and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to your taste, and red pepper flakes or hot sauce if you want some spice.