So Labor Day is behind us as is summer time. Soon the leaves will begin to turn and the mercury will drop, leaving us to crave comfort foods as the days get shorter. Nothing screams comfort food like poutine, a French Canadian dish that consists of french fries, gravy and cheese! Ok, so it’s not the healthiest dish but we have a baked french fry option and it can be over healthified by omitting or limiting the cheese or using a healthier, home made vegan cheese sauce. However, a small portion size while curling up with your loved ones and indulging in a good movie might be well deserved after a long week!
- 4 to 6 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
- Healthy high heat oil for frying (safflower, sunflower, coconut, etc)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 teaspoon all purpose flour (use corn or potato starch if needed to be gluten free)
- 1 cup vegetable or vegan chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon savory
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- Dash of pepper
- 2 cups vegan shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
To make gravy:
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes over low heat. Stir in flour; cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add water or stock, soy sauce, and molasses. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with herbs and pepper. For a richer flavor, replace part of the oil with vegan margarine.
To make potatoes:
Slice the potatoes lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick. Stack the slices and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick sticks (or cut the potatoes into fries using a french fry cutter). Place in a large bowl filled with cold water and let sit at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours for extra-crispy fries. Drain well and pat dry or spin dry in a salad spinner.
Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Heat 2 to 3 inches vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F (or use a deep fryer). Fry the potatoes in small batches until whitish yellow, about 8 minutes. Remove with a strainer and drain on the paper towels. Bring the oil temperature to 375 degrees F over high heat. Fry the potatoes in batches again until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on fresh paper towels. Salt and pepper the fries while hot.
Put the hot fries in shallow dishes; top with the cheese and hot gravy to melt the cheese.
**For a healthier version, try baked fries and limit the cheese
Baked fries version:
After cutting, soaking and drying the potatoes as mentioned above, the instructions to bake are as follows:
Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper with 1/4 cup healthy high heat oil (sunflower, safflower, coconut, etc) and sprinkle evenly with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss the potatoes with the remaining teaspoon oil and mix evenly.
Arrange the fries in a single layer on a baking sheet and cover the sheet tightly with foil. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the underside of the potatoes are spotty golden brown.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and scrape the fries loose with a spatula. Then use tongs or the spatula to flip over each wedge (keep the potatoes in an even layer). Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Rotate the pan as necessary to help them brown evenly. Season with salt and pepper.