If you have ever spent any extended amount of time ‘back east’, you know that diners are omnipresent eating institutions. While California knock-offs do their best with burgers, fries, and shakes, East Coast diners – be they in old train cars or the random building on the corner – have a special something.
Ever since a young age I was suspicious of mystery meat, so my favorite diner meal was always a grilled cheese with tomato and french fries with gravy. It wasn’t until I became grown-up, and oh-so-refined, that I learned that the latter actually had a French and fancy name: Poutine (though probably Canadian in origin).
Most ‘healthy’ folks gasp at this ‘heart attack on a plate’, but true real foodies know that – when made right – most junk food can be transformed into a nutrient-dense powerhouse. Poutine is no exception.
When fried in coconut oil, tallow, or lard (the latter two from healthy animals), french fries are far less evil than we have been taught to believe. If you’re concerned about the acrylamides (a carcinogen that occurs when starch is fried) you can follow this tutorial to actually ferment the potatoes before frying which reduces acrylamide formation.
Fermented fries are super yummy, but I often skip this step since it’s extra work and we don’t fry food on a regular basis.
Gravy made with homemade bone broth is so darn delicious, it’s hard to believe it’s actually good for you. Learn more about how to make it, and the amazing benefits of chicken bone broth and beef bone broth here.
Though often served with cheese curds or chunks of a mild cheese, this dish could easily be grain-free and dairy-free by skipping the cheese, opting for non-dairy fats, and using arrowroot to thicken the gravy instead of sprouted flour. Personally, I like to add a bit of broccolini for lightness and crunch (sacrilegious, I know), but the options for add-ons are certainly endless.
Any way I serve it, this is probably my most favorite comfort food that graces our family table.
- 4 T. butter, lard, beef tallow, or coconut oil
- 4 T. sprouted flour or 2 T. arrowroot
- 4 cups beef or chicken stock
- 2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste
- 4 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 cup lard, beef tallow, or coconut oil
- 2 bunches broccolini
- 16 ounces mild cheese or cheese curds, optional
For the gravy
- In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine 4 T. butter, lard, beef tallow, or coconut oil, sprouted flour or arrowroot, 1 T. sea salt, and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Whisk until incorporated and no lumps remain.
- Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the beef or chicken stock, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
For the poutine
- Peel the potatoes and cut in fries, 3-4 inches long by 1/4 to 1/2-inch wide.
- Bring a pot of filtered water to a boil. Add the potatoes and blanch for 3-5 minutes. Remove, drain and cool. Pat with a dish cloth until completely dry.
- Fry the potatoes in beef tallow, lard, or coconut oil until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Strain and reserve fat for future cooking.
- Pull broccolini apart into small bite-sized pieces and rinse well. Place broccolini in the pan over medium high heat and cover, steaming for 2-3 minutes until bright green.
- Place the fries and broccolini on plates. Crumble the cheese on top into bite sized pieces and pour hot gravy over top. Enjoy immediately.
Real food has only strengthened my love affair with this classic comfort food… What’s your favorite junk food makeover?