Saturday, January 02, 2010

Roasted vegetable "poutine" with soy-squash gravy

At the gym the other day I was reading Calvin Trillin's article on poutine in the New Yorker, and, looking through my pantry and refrigerator for something to make for lunch later in the day, thought I would try my hand at a less-heart-attack-inducing version thereof.

For folks unfamiliar with this Quebecois dish (now, apparently, becoming popular outside la belle province) it is, in its proper form, nothing more than french fries topped with cheddar-cheese curds and then drowned in a thin brown meaty gravy (i.e., carbohydrates topped with fat and drenched in salt). Not something you'd normally make at home, but figuring that oven-roasted root vegetables have lots of the same qualities as french fries, and having on hand lots of potatoes, carrots and Shelburne Farms cheddar (courtesy of a holiday basket delivered to every family at my kids' school), I thought I would give it a shot.

I also had on hand some butternut-squash "stock," a by-product of making a butternut squash soup a week ago. From Cook's Illustrated, one of the best ways of getting a good, pure, squashy soup is to, instead of using either flavorless water or non-squash-flavored stock, reserve the seeds and strings from your squash, sauté them in a little butter for a good several minutes, then add water, simmer for 10-20 minutes, and strain. Even if you don't go to this trouble, it's always worth saving the strings & seeds from a butternut squash to add to onions, etc. when making homemade veggie stock (that is, if you make such).

So, without further ado, the recipe:

1. Cut up some potatoes and carrots - leaving the potato chunks fairly large but cutting the carrots smaller, because they are slower to cook. Also chop up an onion or two. Toss all together with some fat (home-rendered lard, bacon fat or suet is really tasty here if you have it, but olive oil is fine too), a bit of salt and a good amount of black pepper.

2. Put in roasting pan and roast at 425 degrees for about an hour, tossing a couple of times.

3. Meanwhile, cut up some cheddar into chunks if you don't have cheddar curds on hand.

4. Make the gravy: melt about 1 tsp butter in a small saucepan, and add 1-2 tsp flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring to mix thoroughly, until nutty-brown and fragrant.

5. Add 1 cup squash stock (or veggie stock made with squash innards, or just veggie stock, or really any stock you have on hand - just avoid super-salty canned stock or brother). Whisk to incorporate all of the butter-flour mixture, then bring to a simmer, add a good splash of soy sauce and cook for 10-20 minutes until slightly thickened (it should be just a bit thicker than water). Taste and add more soy sauce if necessary.

6. When vegetables are well-roasted, remove to serving dishes and sprinkle cheddar curds or cubes over. Add a splash of sherry to the pan and scrape up the browned bits; add this mixture to the gravy. Heat gravy for another minute or two, then pour over the vegetables and cheese.

Serve with plenty of bread to sop up the tasty gravy.

1 comment:

Angela McGregor said...

This sounds amazing, Jonathan! I'll have to try my hand at it. Also thanks for the tip about seeds and strings of butternut making a good veggie stock. I usually make my veggie stock out of leek tops (and corn cobs in summer), but leeks are getting expensive this time of year. What else was in that holiday basket from school? YUM.