Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.

"Chef Brian Henry cooked a series of delicious appetizers for us as we sat around a table in the kitchen". Thanks

Tony Aspler, Wine writer

“Chef Brian Henry puts one hundred percent of his energy into going all the way.”

Birgit Moenke, Editor Stir Media Read More Reviews

Posts Tagged ‘fundraising’

Gastronomically yours,

March 23rd, 2012

Something to Birch About

 

This winter or more specifically a lack of it has made for easier heating bills and a lot less shoveling but I can’t help but wonder what will happen to this year’s maple sap harvest. For those of you who weren’t aware Ontario maple syrup producers started harvesting this year’s crop three weeks ago.

 Making birch syrup is similar to making maple syrup but you need to be aware of some critical differences in the saps to be able to have a successful harvest. Birch sap harvesting begins right after the maple harvest ends as it requires warmer weather than the maple sap to flow. The birch sugaring season is shorter than maple and only lasts for about two weeks.

 Birch sap contains less than half the sugar found in maple sap. This translates to approximately 100 liters of birch sap being required to produce 1 liter of birch syrup opposed to the 40 liters of maple sap required to produce 1 liter of maple syrup. Also the sugars present in birch sap are fructose and glucose instead of sucrose found in maple sap. Fructose and glucose burn very easily which necessitates birch sap being processed below its boiling point so that its sugars do not burn. Comparatively birch sap is far more expensive to produce as it requires almost 4 times the amount of energy to render it into syrup. This explains why birch syrup costs $275.00 a gallon.

 Birch syrup is easier to digest than maple syrup and has significantly higher amounts of nutrients than maple syrup which is why it has been considered somewhat of an elixir or tonic throughout many cultures living in the extreme northerly regions of the northern hemisphere.

 If are thinking about harvesting birch sap for sugaring you will also need to consider that birch sap is notably more acidic than maple sap. For this reason you should only use plastic or stainless steel equipment to process birch syrup as aluminum and galvanized steel can be dissolved by the sap giving the finished syrup a metallic taste. Also look for Paper birch trees as they have the highest concentration of sugar than other species of birch trees.

  Before setting out in the woods or off to a specialty food store to get some birch syrup you need to be aware that even though birch syrup is used just like maple syrup to coat meats, vegetable and stacks of flapjacks; it’s taste is quite different as it’s sugars give it a roasted caramel flavor with somewhat spicy tones to it. Locally you can find birch trees almost anywhere to tap to make your own birch syrup and try it in the following recipe. Remember that 1 cup birch syrup reads: 100 cups birch sap,

 

 

Birch Syrup Pie

 

1 cup Birch Syrup

1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 egg yolks, beaten lightly
2 tbsp. butter
1 8 inch pie shell- made and baked ahead of time

Method:

Gently heat the birch syrup over a low flame in a medium sized, stainless steel sauce pot. Separately whisk together the corn-starch and water until smooth, then whisk the cornstarch slurry into the syrup. Next whisk the egg yolks into the syrup. Continue stirring the syrup mixture while cooking it over low heat until it has thickened and the corn-starch is cooked out.

Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the butter.  Pour the syrup mixture into the pre-cooked pie shell and allow it to cool down to room temperature. Serve warm with ice cream.

 

Kawartha International Wine & Food Festival

March 4th, 2012
 
 
Sunday, April 15, 2012
At The Venue, 286 George Street North,
Peterborough, Ontario

Noon until 8:00 p.m.
$12.00 per person (HST included)
Included 1 Food and Wine Pairing Wine Wheel (retail value $10.)
 
The Venue is proud to be hosting the first annual Kawartha International Wine & Food Festival… Sunday April 15th! Produced by Shari Darling and the Kawartha Entertainment Group, the festival promises to be a one of a kind event that will draw global wine, artisan local beer, spirit and food lovers from all over the Kawarthas and beyond.
 
The Kawartha International Wine & Food Festival’s goal is to put superb wines from around the globe alongside some of Peterborough’s finest fare…Global wine, local food is our mantra! While strolling around the Venue sampling from our incredible list of vendors, you’ll be able to stop and listen in on one of our product seminars which will run throughout the day. Or you may like to book yourself into one of our global cooking demos from local culinary masters Chef Brian Henry and Chef Brian Forsythe. Perhaps a trip up to our artisan micro brew and spirit section may be of interest? We’ll have it all under one roof! Each vendor will charge for samples.
 
This is a truly unique event for Peterborough and the surrounding area. No other event in the Kawarthas will bring such an amazing array or food and wine vendors together to tantalize your palette like the Kawartha International Wine & Food Festival.
 
 
 
Contact Shari Darling for details: shariLdarling@aol.com , (705) 957-0324
 
 

Gastronomically yours,

March 3rd, 2012

Bovine Milk

 

Humans began consuming the milk of other mammals around 9000 BC. It was at this time that we began domesticating animals which led to the agriculture revolution. Farming practices began in Southwest Asia and grew in commonality through nomadic cultures as it permitted people to move about the land taking their food sources with them instead of the more firmly rooted practice of crop farming.

 These nomadic people`s became wandering yet self-sustained micro-economies, who sold dairy and meat derived foods as well as livestock throughout the regions they traversed. At this time global diversity and trade progressed at a nomad’s pace taking almost 4000 years for the practice of dairy farming to reach Europe. After which globalization saw another 1500 years pass before milk harvesting reached the Americas.

 At first humans raised sheep and goats for milk production as these smaller creatures were easily cultivated in comparison to the domestication of bovine species as this required the taming of the now extinct auroch which would have been a dangerous feat as these mammals measured 5ft across at their withers which shouldered horns up to three feet in length each.  

 Although milk is most commonly collected from cows, sheep and goats there are cultures and economies that rely on milk harvested from camels, horses, reindeer, water buffalo, bison and yak.

 Today our planet produces in excess of 700 million tons of milk annually to supply the demands of our planets ever growing population. The bulk of this milk is derived from bovine sources of which India is the world’s largest producer of milk. The ever increasing demand for our global consumption of milk products has seen the growth has seen the advancement in automated milking equipment and investment by large conglomerate dairy companies around the world.

 Locally we can still savour the taste of smaller scale milk producers like The Kawartha Dairy Company who works cooperatively with smaller farms creating a diverse local economy and is celebrating its 75th year as a Canadian-family owned and operated business. I encourage you to buy some locally produced milk to add to this weeks following recipe.

 

Chunky Potato Soup

Ingredients

½ pound bacon, chopped

¼ cup celery, diced

1 cup cooking onion, diced

1 tsp. garlic, minced

4 cups of potatoes, cut into ½ inch and cubes

3 cups chicken stock

½ cup milk or heavy cream

½ tsp of dried thyme or tarragon

1 tbsp. parsley chopped fine

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a heavy bottomed soup pot cook the bacon over medium heat until desired doneness. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside. Sauté the celery and onions in the remaining bacon grease until they are tender but not browned. Add the garlic and potatoes to the pot and continue cooking for another 5 minutes while continuously stirring the mixture. Pour in the stock and simmer over medium-low heat until the potatoes are tender. Add the milk, and herbs to the soup. Puree half the soup to let the potato starch act as a natural thickening agent while the remaining potato pieces will allow for the soup to be chunky. Stir the cooked bacon into the soup. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

Gastronomically yours,

March 2nd, 2012

 

Where the buffalo roam

 

We use the words buffalo and bison interchangeably as if they were describing the same animal but the two are actually distant relatives which are more closely related to the domesticated bovine than each other.

 Buffalo are related to the Asian water buffalo. Bison are the almost mythical creature that roamed North America with a population in excess of 50 million. Today those herds have dwindled down to around 13 000 animals that areconsidered to be truly genetic- wild-bison living in protected game preserves and park land.

 Commercially we can find half a million bison being raised for its meat and hides throughout North America. Annually we see about 10% of these animals being culled for human consumption. These cultivated animals are crossbreeds that contain bovine or beef cattle DNA and are referred to as beefalo by some.

 Wild bison have a lifespan of 15 years and may weigh up to 1,000 kg compared to commercially raised bison that may exceed 25 years of age and weigh in around 1600kg.

 At first glance bison meat is quite similar to beef. Nutritionally bison contains less than half the fats and cholesterol found in beef. Due to the healthier qualities associated with this densely flavored protein we have to make some adjustments in the kitchen when we prepare it. Bison is naturally tender however it is often misjudged as being tough this misconception is largely due to it being improperly cooked. The main thing to consider when cooking bison is that it is extremely lean and will cook very quickly compared to other meats. It responds best to being cooked slowly using lower temperatures. It is critical that buffalo meat does not get over cooked; simply this meat should not be cooked beyond medium rare. 

 Locally Tim Belch operates a bison farm that supplies restaurants throughout Ontario and is sold to the public from their farm and at Peterborough’s Saturday Farmers Market. At one time Belch’s Bison farm was the largest producer of bison in Canada.

 I recommend trying some of Belch’s Bison as a healthy alternative to other proteins you may currently use in your diet keeping in mind the preparation tips previously suggested or simply try this week’s recipe for a southwestern flavored roast.

 

Southwest style Bison Tenderloin

1 center cut bison tenderloin approximately 2 lbs.

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 ½ tsp. ancho chile powder  

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. brown sugar

 

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic minced

2 cloves garlic minced

1/4 tsp. celery seeds

2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

 

Method:  In a medium size bowl whisk together the oil, herbs, spices and lime juice. Completely coat the bison loin with the oil mixture and let it stand at room temperature for 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 425°f and then cook your tenderloin on a wire rack in a roasting pan for 25-30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature 130°f. Remove the roast from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes prior to slicing and serving it. Serves 4 people.

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

March 2nd, 2012

Something to Birch About

 

This winter or more specifically a lack of it has made for easier heating bills and a lot less shoveling but I can’t help but wonder what will happen to this year’s maple sap harvest. For those of you who weren’t aware Ontario maple syrup producers started harvesting this year’s crop three weeks ago.

 Making birch syrup is similar to making maple syrup but you need to be aware of some critical differences in the saps to be able to have a successful harvest. Birch sap harvesting begins right after the maple harvest ends as it requires warmer weather than the maple sap to flow. The birch sugaring season is shorter than maple and only lasts for about two weeks.

 Birch sap contains less than half the sugar found in maple sap. This translates to approximately 100 liters of birch sap being required to produce 1 liter of birch syrup opposed to the 40 liters of maple sap required to produce 1 liter of maple syrup. Also the sugars present in birch sap are fructose and glucose instead of sucrose found in maple sap. Fructose and glucose burn very easily which necessitates birch sap being processed below its boiling point so that its sugars do not burn. Comparatively birch sap is far more expensive to produce as it requires almost 4 times the amount of energy to render it into syrup. This explains why birch syrup costs $275.00 a gallon.

 Birch syrup is easier to digest than maple syrup and has significantly higher amounts of nutrients than maple syrup which is why it has been considered somewhat of an elixir or tonic throughout many cultures living in the extreme northerly regions of the northern hemisphere.

 If are thinking about harvesting birch sap for sugaring you will also need to consider that birch sap is notably more acidic than maple sap. For this reason you should only use plastic or stainless steel equipment to process birch syrup as aluminum and galvanized steel can be dissolved by the sap giving the finished syrup a metallic taste. Also look for Paper birch trees as they have the highest concentration of sugar than other species of birch trees.

  Before setting out in the woods or off to a specialty food store to get some birch syrup you need to be aware that even though birch syrup is used just like maple syrup to coat meats, vegetable and stacks of flapjacks; it’s taste is quite different as it’s sugars give it a roasted caramel flavor with somewhat spicy tones to it. Locally you can find birch trees almost anywhere to tap to make your own birch syrup and try it in the following recipe. Remember that 1 cup birch syrup reads: 100 cups birch sap,

 

 

Birch Syrup Pie

 

1 cup Birch Syrup

1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 egg yolks, beaten lightly
2 tbsp. butter
1 8 inch pie shell- made and baked ahead of time

Method:

Gently heat the birch syrup over a low flame in a medium sized, stainless steel sauce pot. Separately whisk together the corn-starch and water until smooth, then whisk the cornstarch slurry into the syrup. Next whisk the egg yolks into the syrup. Continue stirring the syrup mixture while cooking it over low heat until it has thickened and the corn-starch is cooked out.

Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the butter.  Pour the syrup mixture into the pre-cooked pie shell and allow it to cool down to room temperature. Serve warm with ice cream.

 

Gastronomically yours,

October 29th, 2011

Raising the Roof on the Centre of Hope

 At one time or another, most people dream about getting away from the cold Canadian weather to an idyllic vacation in the warm sunny tropics.  So, it was when my husband and I, in 1995, with visions of long sandy beaches, backpacking to a jungle retreat, and plans to discover the secrets of the ancient Mayan set off for Belize.

Belize (formerly the British Colony known as British Honduras,) is a small Central American country south of Mexico and is nestled just to the east of Guatemala.  The Mosquito Coast (as it has been called) is dotted with Cayes and is protected by the second largest barrier reef in the world.

The history of Belize is fascinating.  The earliest foreigners came to islands as early as 1600. Both Spain and England laid claim to the colony.  With few inhabitants, treacherous swampy backwaters, and the dangerous offshore reef, Belize was an ideal hideout for pirates and buccaneers. There were many shipwrecks off the barrier reef, some of which remain to this day.  Spain finally signed a treaty with England, in order to suppress the piracy and to protect the lumber interests.  By 1700, lumber was a booming industry, and the huge mahogany logs were shipped to Europe to be used in the ship- building industry. Soon slaves were traded, resulting in a population that consisted of 75 % black slaves and a smaller white elite who lived in relative comfort in their homes in Belize City.

Spain relinquished its control of Mexico and Guatemala in 1821, but Britain’s interest in Belize grew throughout the 1800s.  In 1859, Britain signed a treaty with Guatemala, in which the present-day boundaries of Belize ?, in return for Britain financing of a road from Guatemala’s capital to Belize City.  This promise was never carried out, and is one of the reasons Guatemala never formerly ratified the 1859 agreement.  In 1991 the Guatemalan president settled the long running dispute, although the British continued to keep about two thousand soldiers in the country, as a deterrent to would be invaders.  Mexico renounced any claims on Belize in 1897.  The slave trade was abolished in 1839; English and Scottish settlers were intermarrying with freed black slaves, to form the black Creole majority that dominates the population of Belize.

Throughout the next century Belize went through profound cultural changes.  Immigrants arrived from China, Lebanon, the West Indies, as well as refugees from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala and to a lesser degree El Salvador.  By the 1930’s conditions in Belize, were deteriorating due to a poor economy, low wages, and high unemployment.  This mixed with unrest from neighbouring Guatemala, started the drive for an independent country.  On September 21, 1981 Belize became and independent nation.

Today, compared to other Central American countries, Belize enjoys relative prosperity. However, most food, manufactured goods, and consumer products are imported resulting in a huge trade deficit.  Despite, rather good education, there is high unemployment. Now more than ever there are increasing numbers of Guatemalans, Honduran, El Salvadorian, and Mexican immigrants, many of who are illegal.  Much of the Belize foreign exchange is derived from citizens who have emigrated from Belize to more developed countries.  An estimated 1/3 of Belize Citizens live outside the country.

For travelers today, Belize is an eco-tourism haven.  Many very upscale jungles lodges offer comfort and rustic adventure, all within a close distance.  Mayan guides are ready to take groups up the peaks of Victoria Mountain, camp in the Cockscomb Basin, or kayak down the rushing current of the Mopan River where one hundred years ago, great mahogany logs were being floated down stream towards Belize City.  Quite often the tourist is protected from seeing the homeless, the pain on the streets, the long lineups at the day clinics of the government hospital.

Sitting in the Market Place in San Ignacio, we could almost feel the history, and certainly could hear the pride in the voices of the local people.  They were proud to be free, we were told over and over.  This is Belize!  While enjoying panades we asked about the health care, how people managed, what was being done about the homeless, the poor and the elderly?  We were told about “The Centre.”  The “Old Folks Home” It was known as the “Poor House.”  They also told us about the local hospital.  The Government hospital –but if you were really ill, or you were a tourist, you went to the Private Seventh Day Adventist Hospital.  We were told about hardship, daily struggles, not enough food, lack of medical supplies, and old broken down army cots.  But still, it was better than sleeping on the street.

We returned from our vacation with the feeling that something was missing.  The experience was like a fluffy dessert, refreshing, pleasing, but not entirely satisfying.  My return to my job as a nurse in Long Term Care seemed to be different somehow.  We seemed to have so much.  The residents were so well fed; in fact we would throw out more in one meal than what the resident’s in the Octavia Waight Centre had to eat for an entire day.  No one was in pain because of lack of medication.  Everyone had a warm and comfortable bed.

 

After several years, Bob (my husband) and I determined to stop putting the thought of Belize out of our minds.  It seemed to us that if we tried hard enough somehow we could make a difference.  And so…. “Beds for Belize” was born.

 

Our first trip was so innocent.  Like having your first-born child it was the first time for everything. We were not really prepared, and had not yet experienced the impact of four thousand miles on the human body.  We prepared our motor home, for the trip and packed a pull behind trailer full of beds, diapers and medical supplies.  The roads were so rough that the trailer popped off the hitch many times.  To say that we got there safely was an overstatement, but we did get there.  One of the very large boxes we brought with us contained colostomy bags.

 

Mr. Gabriel Murillo is a 76-year-old thin frail Honduran born refugee.  One year previous to our visit, he was living on the streets of St Ignacio.  He was covered with filth and flies; the odor emanating from him was so bad that people would cross the street to avoid him.  He was taken to the center, for help.  They discovered that they odor was coming from a colostomy.  He was covered in feces.  They cleaned him up and gave him clean clothes and food.  All they had to put over his colostomy was bread bags attached with surgical tape.  Later that week, Mr. Murillo shook my hand, smiled and proudly showed me his new colostomy bag, which he had secured around his waist with a piece of kitchen string.

That first contact and experience with the staff and residents of Octavia Waight Centre and this beautiful country seemed to burn into our heart and soul. We began to plan, and started to raise money, and supplies for our next trip.  Since that time 4 more trips have been made and over one hundred thousand dollars worth of aid has been taken to this center.

We have travelled to Belize by motor home and trailer, two large cube vans, and two school buses packed with donated wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, geriatric chairs, hospital beds, mattresses, wound care supplies, medications, sheets, blankets, pillows, clothing, towels, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, thermometers, glucose monitoring devices, creams lotions, soaps and shampoos, but most importantly diapers.  The community of Huntsville has been very generous.

 A very special group of women in Huntsville call themselves “Knitters for Global Warmth” Margaret McCall the founder of this group, has arranged the donation of lap blankets, shawls, slippers and hats, enough for everyone for two years in a row. It was a special Christmas like moment when the goods were passed out one by one. Each resident chose the colour they liked best. Joy as warm as the tropic sun could be felt, by everyone that day. These residents had just endured an outbreak of influenza. Thirteen out of 24 residents had died. The nighttime temperature had dropped to 50 degrees, and they did not have enough sweaters or blankets to stay warm, during the night.

Although the goal of the project is to collect and deliver in person, goods and supplies, it is becoming harder and harder to get across borders and to clear customs. More  regulation is coming from the Mexican government and many items previously shipped are considered illegal to carry. This includes clothes and diapers. This indeed is a very difficult problem. Incontinent products are what they need most, and we usually brought enough to last an entire year.

 

Dedicated volunteers have assisted with the driving and others have flown in to be at the center to help unload and unpack supplies when they arrived.  While volunteers were waiting for the driving crew to clear customs, many routine tasks for staff were made lighter by having more eager hands willing to do work.  Some examples are: Jim Webb spent a week building cupboards for the kitchen.   Jon Armstrong (a mechanic by trade) was very happy to work with Jack the handyman fixing the center’s broken down vehicles.  Len Ross and Len Holloway cheerfully erected a fence surrounding the compound, despite the fierce biting of red fire ants.

 Staff were eager to learn and I was pleased to teach simple nursing skills; how to take blood pressures, the importance of hand washing, skin and wound care, education about medication, diabetes, and dementia, how to safely transfer and move patients, nutrition and hydration.  They reviewed basic nursing texts with an avid appetite and watched videos on the VCR that we brought with us.  With the help of volunteers at the center medical care that had not been available previously was arranged and carries on to this day.

 What once was considered the poor house for the under privileged has become a Centre of Hope.

Slowly over time, the Octavia Waight Centre has grown.  While continuing to struggle to meet daily needs, they are reaching out to their community.  A paralyzed child confined to bed is now able to attend school because of a wheelchair.  A woman is able to get to the bathroom because of a walker.  Residents of the town are dropping into the center to use the newly refurbished “physio room” equipped with parallel bars and pulley’s.  In a gesture of thanks they bring with them a chicken, a loaf of bread of a bag of oranges. School children drop into the center to entertain the seniors, or run an activity.

 The basic building, now eighteen years old is made with cement.  The original tin roof is full of holes and several years of rain has rotted out the rafters.  It is in danger of collapsing.  The paint in the rooms is peeling and the mold near the floorboards is rampant.

 “Raising the Roof” is the name of the next project for the Octavia Waight Centre.  We will need to raise $50,000, to accomplish our goal of replacing the roof.

 On Saturday October 23, 2004 one hundred and seventy tickets were sold for a gourmet potluck dinner, which took place at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Huntsville.

 This fabulous multi-course culinary experience was organized under the supervision of Raising the Roof, Culinary Director, Chef Brian Henry.  The kitchen crew served delicious warm fresh herb bread from the River Bend Restaurant, Barley risotto with Grilled vegetables, made at 3 Guys and a Stove. Chef Randy Spencer of Tall Trees Restaurant presented Asian Game Consume with Julienne of Root Vegetables.  Caribbean Mango Salad with Ice Shrimp and Crab came from Dino’s Family Place Restaurant. Chef B.G. Henry himself made Mole marinated Duck Breast with Dark Chocolate Drizzle.  A wonderful cioppino of New Zealand Mussels was the work of Raising the Roof, Culinary Team Captain Mark Anderson, along with Culinary Arts Students from George Brown College. Chef Cynthia Simpson of Nor’loch Lodge resort presented a mushroom composition with duck rillet. The meal ended with a succulent Double Layered Chocolate Mouse Ganache Genoise made by the Deerhurst Resort Pastry Shop.

 All of the food, supplies, and time were generously donated, with one hundred percent of the sales going towards the project. Culinary Team Captain Mark Anderson recruited students from George Brown College who acted independently from the college and were privately sponsored by Chef B. G. Henry and Burleigh Island Lodge.

 One of our volunteers, Mr. Ron Henry, has been the key person in organizing this fund raising event.  Not only did he work with his son to organize the gourmet dinner, but also he has organized the donation and building of the replica of the Centre.  On this replica there are sections of roof that can be bought for a donation of $100.00.  Each donor will receive a tax receipt and will have their name engraved on a plaque, which will hang in the Octavia Waight Centre.  For an extra special night of excellent culinary delight for this worthwhile cause, Chef Brian Henry will come to your home and prepare a gourmet meal for eight.  All it takes is a donation of $ 2,000 or more.

 Our volunteer team has a lot of work ahead of them: review blueprint plans, contact manufacturers to seek out possible donations of supplies, organize a construction team and co-ordinate the shipping, customs clearing and many other tasks too numerous to mention.

 Above all we continue to dream, and to review in our memory the faces of the thankful and unspoiled residents of this wonderful place called the Octavia Waight Centre.

Joanne Chipperfield RN CPMHN(C)

 

Gastronomically yours,

August 14th, 2011

The Poutine Manifesto

Poutine is a French-Canadian food. The origins of poutine are disputed but restaurateur Fernand Lachance fromWarwickQuebecis believed to have created and named this dish in 1957. Poutine is Acadian slang for mushy mess.

 I have to mention that there is a proper way to pronounce poutine, which phonetically is ‘peu-tsin’, not ‘pooh-teen’. As well as its proper pronunciation, one must also respect how to properly prepare poutine.

 Although most would describe poutine as French fries with cheese and gravy, these three components must be truthfully prepared. To explain this accurately we must first consider the potatoes. They should be fresh, washed and then cut by hand into a medium sized fry. These are to be fried so that the insides are still soft, with an outer crust.  Fast-food fries do not cut it. To cook the cut fries you need to fry the potatoes in pure lard. Canola oil or other politically-correct oils will take away from the flavours that are to be enjoyed in this artery clogging indulgence. Remember its poutine we’re talking about here.

 Next we must consider the sauce. Yes the sauce not gravy. Its best prepared with a light chicken or veal velouté that is slightly acidic and mildly spiced with pepper.

 Now let’s consider the most important component of poutine; the pillar to successful poutine is the cheese. The only acceptable cheese to use is fresh white, cheddar cheese curds. These curds have a taste and texture very different than actual cheddar cheese. The cheese curds will actually squeak in your teeth as you bite them.

 When the curds are placed on the fries and the hot gravy is poured on top, the three flavours combine to produce what can only be described as the best all Canadian junk food taste sensation on earth.

 I recently tried this recipe with some garlic flavoured cheese curds from Empire cheese factory in Campbellford. Oh my, was it good!!

 

Poutine Sauce

One litre of chicken or veal stock

Two ounces of flour

Two ounces of butter

One half tsp of tomato paste

Bring the stock to a gentle boil in a saucepan. Melt the butter in a small fry pan over medium –high heat. Whisk in the flour. Continuously stir the mixture until you have a pale roux or 2-3 minutes. Whisk the roux into the stock. Reduce heat to low-medium and allow sauce to gently simmer for 1-2 hours depending on desired consistency. Strain the sauce and add the tomato sauce then season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Poutine

Two cups of poutine sauce

One litre of lard for frying

Five medium potatoes cut into fries

Two cups of fresh cheese curds

First prepare the sauce and hold hot over medium heat. Heat lard in a deep fryer to 365 F.

Place the fries into the hot oil, and cook until a light golden brown. Make the fries in small batches to allow them room to move a little in the oil. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Place the fries on a serving platter, and sprinkle generously with curds. Finish by ladling hot poutine sauce over the fries and cheese. Serve immediately.

 

Gastronomically yours,

Chef Brian Henry

 

 

 

 

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