An easy homemade and healthier alternative to this Canadian classic, with very little oil and a bone broth gravy for added nutrition.
I remember hearing about poutine during my first visit to Montreal. I didn’t know at that time I would end up moving here but as with any other trip, personal or work, I asked about the local things to do. Poutine seemed to be high on the ranks for every recommendation I got. And to be honest, I wasn’t sold into the idea of eating fried potatoes with gravy and cheese.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like fries, but I normally feel pretty unwell after eating them out. Too much oil and not from the good quality type is normally the issue. And gravy is something that it really isn’t enticing when you first hear about it and even less when you discover is often made with powder and rarely ever is gluten free. So, the week in Montreal went by and poutine didn’t make it to the things I wanted to experience.
It was not until a year later, back in Canada although on the west coast, where I finally dared to try it. I was on a tour and we stopped at a sugar shack (aka. “cabane de sucre” in French Canadian) which are small restaurants dedicated to serve all the classic dishes from Quebec, such as poutine and maple products. There weren’t a lot of options on that sugar shack menu and the tour guide insisted that we had to try poutine. So I eventually ordered it to be shared with one of my tour mates. And to be honest, I didn’t love it. Again, the flavor wasn’t bad but the heavy feeling on my stomach after eating it wasn’t really letting me like this dish.
Fast-forward another year, I moved to Montreal and again poutine was brought up as the thing to do, not just in the city but in the entire province of Quebec. So I tried it a couple more times at different locations. I started liking it a bit more, most likely because I started to associate it with sharing time with friends and keeping myself warm in the cold winter months…, but the heaviness after eating it was still an issue.
So eventually decided to try and make my own. After a couple of homemade poutines in the oven (which are not bad at all and I would recommend to anyone who doesn’t have an air fryer), I eventually bought an Air Fryer and of course, the first dish to be made with it was poutine.
By removing all the excessive grease of the take-out versions and replacing the oil for good quality avocado or olive oil, the digestive issues stopped. For the gravy, I also tried a few different variations with different stocks and gluten free flours, but ended up going with bone broth as I think it’s the closest in flavor and it also adds a lot of health benefits and nutrition to this dish that otherwise would fall a bit short.
Now the big question, can you make poutine without cheese curds? Easily available in Quebec, cheese curds are otherwise hard to find. I didn’t even know what they were until I had poutine! And you know, some may argue that it’s not poutine if you aren’t using cheese curds, but if anyone had to choose between not eating poutine or eating it with other cheese, well, I’m pretty sure anyone would make do with what they had! And, I must say, halloumi does a hell of a job in replacing the squeaky texture of cheese curds, although a bit more intense in flavor. So yes, you can make poutine without curds. Let’s call it, international poutine 🙂
Healthy Air Fryer poutine (gluten-free)
Servings: 2 | Preparation time: 5 min | Waiting time: 30 min | Cooking time: 30 min
- 2 – large russet potatoes
- 1 tbsp – extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 1/4 tbsp – Salt
- 120 grams – cheese curds or halloumi if you can’t find cheese curds
- 1 1/2 tbsps butter
- 1 1/4 tbsp gluten-free flour mix (I used Robin Hood which is has a rice flour base)
- 1 cup bone broth (beef recommended for a more traditional flavor)
- 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 veggie stock cube (I use Haverst Sun fine herbs)
- Peel and cut potatoes in 1cm fries. Place in a bowl with water and let them soak for 30 min.
- After that, pat dry them with a towel. Add to a dry bowl and combine with the oil and salt.
- Heat air fryer to 320F. Place potatoes in the air fryer basket. Set the cooking time to 30 minutes. From min 0 to 24, cook at the said temperature of 320F shaking the pan every 6 minutes (so 4 times in total at the 6, 12, 18 and 24min mark).
- Whilst the fries are in the air fryer, heat a non-stick saucepan to make the gravy. Add the butter until melted. Then add the flour and stir to form a thick paste.
- Heat the broth in the microwave (40 sec to 1 min is enough). Add it to the butter and flour 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well to avoid any lumps.
- Back to the fries. After minute 24 increase temperature to 360F and let them cook for the last 6 minutes.
- *Optional: If using halloumi, heat up a pan with a bit of olive oil and grill it on both sides during this last 6 min of the fries cooking. If using cheese curds, this is not needed.
- Remove fries and place in a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the fries and add the cheese on top.