Sweet Potato Poutine with Mushroom Gravy

Sweet Potato Poutine

To end my little tour of Prince Edward county, I want to share a recipe that I cobbled together that was inspired by the spirit of the PEC.

This dish is made up of seasonal, local ingredients – the cheese actually migrated back to Toronto with us, from Black River Cheese Company in Prince Edward County.

The idea for the recipe came from a combination of two things: the fancy pants poutine we had in Wellington, and the fact that I had bought some cheese curds and couldn’t think of anything better to do with them than make poutine. Since I had never made poutine before, this was a perfect opportunity. J suggested we do sweet potato, to change things up a bit – and it was a fantastic suggestion.

A shameful admission from this proud Canadian girl, I haven’t really had much poutine in my life. Being a strict vegetarian for a good number of my adult years, I didn’t try poutine. To be honest, some of the poutines I saw weren’t even trying to change my mind – gloopy “gravy”, greasy fries and fake mozzarella doesn’t appeal to me. I guess it really isn’t that big of a surprise that it hasn’t been on my ‘to do’ list.

Not long ago, J and I went to a fun tapas restaurant that focused on local ingredients, and we tried a really good unusual poutine. So when we saw it on the menu in Wellington – another poutine that stretched the boundaries – we happily ordered it.

To be honest, I really should have tried to make it sooner.

Not to rain on anyone’s grease parade, but making poutine at home can actually be healthy. The most fattening thing in the whole dish is the oozy cheese – and it’s oozy melty goodness is used to its full advantage when layered this way. The sweet potato ‘fries’ are baked with a little bit of oil, and some smart seasoning, and the gravy is vegetarian with only a bit of oil and some milk to add to the fat content. Compare this to the usual “heart attack in a bowl” that is traditional poutine.

The verdict? It was amazing, if I do say so myself! The gravy was probably the biggest question mark, because I used a new recipe. I probably would use less milk next time – it tasted amazing, but am I wrong to think a milky coloured gravy just seems weird? It didn’t thicken as much as I thought – but it was thick enough for this, and not gloopy like you get when you thicken with corn starch.

Finally – I try making some Canadian food on this blog!!! It only took nearly a year!!

… and with this, I end my yammering about Prince Edward County (for a little while, anyway).

Sweet Potato Poutine with Mushroom Gravy

Vegetarian, contains dairy (although could be made vegan with some substitutions).

This recipe can be made gluten-free simply by replacing the flour in the gravy with a gluten-free alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cleaned and sliced into thin strips
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
  • white cheddar cheese curds (I used some from Black River)
  • 1-2 cups mushroom gravy (see recipe below)
  • Coarse sea salt and pepper to garnish

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Toss sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon (or less, if you can) olive oil, and spread them in a single layer across a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven, spray/toss sweet potatoes with a little more oil, then toss with sea salt and seasonings.
  4. Put the sweet potatoes back into the oven, and bake until crispy. Take them out every 10 minutes, toss them, turn the pan in the other direction, and put it back in the oven.
  5. In the meantime, make sure the gravy is nice and warm… it needs to be able to melt the cheese!
  6. Divide potatoes into portions in serving bowls, add a layer of cheese curds, then pour about 1/2 cup of warm gravy over top of each serving.
  7. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Mushroom Gravy

Inspired by this recipe from Vegetarian Times.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mushroom stock (see recipe below)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of herbs and spices (I used sage, thyme and rosemary for this dish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add the mushrooms, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Reduce heat to low, and cook until flour begins to brown, whisking constantly.
  4. Whisk in milk, stock, salt, and pepper. Simmer until thickened, whisking often.

Mushroom Stock

Ingredients:

  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon oil (light tasting oils like canola or vegetable work best)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 3-4 cups diced mushrooms (I used frozen stems from white, crimini, and portabello mushrooms)

Preparation:

  1. Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl with about 3 or 4 cups of hot water.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot. Sauté the garlic and onion until soft, and add the bay leaves, pepper and rosemary.
  3. Add the diced mushrooms, and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Stir the mushrooms rehydrating in the bowl to release more flavours – pour the water and mushrooms into the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil, turn down to low, put a lid on the pot, and let simmer for one hour.
  6. Pour through a strainer, gently pressing the liquid out of the mushrooms.

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