Being from Montréal, Canada, I always considered poutine as a fast food item or a 3AM pick-me-up! But when you dig deeper, poutine is really the most famous québécois dish on a national (and international) level. I remember seeing poutine on menus in San Diego and in Mexico, for example. It originated in rural Québec in the late 1950s. Many small communities claim to be the birthplace of the famed poutine, but nobody really knows exactly where it originated. And I don’t want to take a side, because the discussion could get heated. We, French Canadians, get very emotional when it comes to our food and our national identity. I’m sending a big wink to people from Drummondville, Warwick, and Victoriaville!
Either way, poutine was always the first thing I would eat off the plane every time I visited. But because of the cheese curds, plus the sauce is usually made with beef broth, I had to realign my strategy. Thankfully, many restaurants in Montréal, vegan and non vegan, now offer vegan poutine (Lola Rosa, Copper Branch, La Banquise, Poutineville, and many more). That’s when you see that we, French Canadians, can’t live without our poutine! So here is the version I use at home. This time I tried tofu as the cheese, but I think the very best option remains the Follow Your Heart Provolone.
For the Fries
- 5-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/4″ wide sticks
- Any high-heat oil (I used safflower, but peanut oil would work just great)
For the Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup chili sauce (the Heinz kind)
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
For the Cheese (if you want to use tofu)
- 1/2 pack firm tofu
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
For the fries, I’ve always used the method from rvgoddess.com. It’s basically putting your potato sticks into room temperature oil in a large Dutch oven. Bring the oil to a rolling boil without disturbing the potatoes. Once you achieve the rolling boil, keep cooking the potatoes without disturbing anything for an additional 15 minutes. Once the potatoes are floating loose, you can start to stir them. Carefully! You will need to keep frying them until they are golden and crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Season with sea salt and use right away. This method is mess-free and stress-free!
For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the maple syrup, chili sauce, tamari, red wine vinegar, smoked paprika, chili powder, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Cook while stirring for two minutes. Dilute the corn starch into the vegetable broth. Add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly, lower the heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Taste and adjust seasonings.
For the cheese, if you are using tofu, cut the half brick into small cubes. Soak in the lemon juice and sea salt for about 30 minutes. If you are using the provolone, just cut into small cubes.
To assemble, place the fries in a plate, top with the cheese, and finally with some sauce. Enjoy your vegan poutine, friends! Bon appétit!