Friday, February 19, 2010

Poutine and Tourtiere, or how to veganize traditional Québecois foods



Disclaimer: If you are looking for super-healthy, nutrient-dense, fat-free fare: overt your eyes!

I have been dreaming up a truly tasty gourmet vegan version of poutine for weeks... ok, months, and I finally got my act together and made this last night: Poutine with caramelized onions and rich shitake mushroom gravy with vegan mozerella.


Served along with a prepared seitan tourtière (aka 'meat' pie) from Le Commensal , local steamed carrots and non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider (or, what my son calls "children's wine").

For the un-initiated, poutine is a concoction originating from right here in La Belle Province of Québec during the 1950's. It is basically french fries covered in curd cheese and a rich gravy, or, heart attack on a plate. My version is slightly healthier, being made with oven fries, home-made low sodium non-msg gravy and substituting vegan "cheese" for those infamous cheese curds.

Poutine with caramelized onions and shitake mushroom gravy:
Pre-heat oven to 450F

Oven fries:

3 long white potatoes (from Quebec ;-) ) scrubbed and julienned (large). Soak in cold water with a dash of sea salt for 15-20 minutes; drain.
In a large bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a small dash of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. Arrange on a baking dish in single layer.


Bake for about 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to get them evenly browned. I made the mistake of not draining mine well and they did not brown as well as they usually do.

Meanwhile, prepare the gravy:
1) caramelized onions

1 medium- large yellow onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 Tbsp sunflower or peanut oil

Heat a heavy pan, ie cast iron, on medium heat. Add the oil and heat. Add the onion rings - the oil should be hot enough that they sizzle upon entering the pan. Fry the onion on medium, stirring frequently until they are starting to brown (not burn) evenly. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are evenly golden. Set aside.

2) shitake gravy

1/2 cup dried shitake mushroom pieces
2 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine
2 Tbsp unbleached flour
2 cups vegetable bouillon (I used 2 cups of boiling water with 1 organic vegetable low-sodium bouillon cube)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
fresh ground pepper to taste

Place shitake mushrooms in a microwave-proof bowl, cover with water and microwave on high for 5 minutes or until mushrooms have softened. Drain and set aside.
In the same pan used to caramelize the mushrooms, melt margarine over low heat. Whisk in flour and continue to whisk for about 2 minutes - until forming a lightly-browned paste. Very slowly add in the bouillon, whisking continually, to prevent lumps. Add in flakes, mushrooms and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking often. Reduce heat to minimum and continue to whisk frequently for another couple of minutes, until gravy has thickened.

4) Assemble poutine:
Place oven on Broil

Arrange oven fries in a shallow baking dish. Cover with a generous amount of gravy, top with caramelized onions and finally a generous amount of grated vegan mozzerella cheese. Place under broiler for 2 minutes.


This is honestly the best gravy I have ever tasted. I would highly recommend using it in vast quantities over mashed potatoes, tofurki, seitan steaks.. anything!

My son actually did not want the poutine - shocker! He opted to have just the fries with ketchup and the seitan tourtiere he had no idea was not 'regular' meat tourtiere. He thought it was excellent - KID APPROVED!

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