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A perfect poutine is something to strive for, but I don't kid myself thinking that more than a small handful of you will really go so far as to make your own cheese curds, beef stock, and from-scratch fries. Thankfully, it's still possible to make great poutine in under an hour. If you don't have the time and patience to do my labor-intensive version, here's how to make killer poutine without becoming a cheesemaker.
Unless you have a source for uber-fresh—I'm talking made the same day—cheese curds, you'll have to give up the idea of a poutine with curds that deliver that ideal squeaky texture. Instead, the next best thing are cheddar cheese curds made farther in advance, which are readily available, including online.
Since these are not same-day fresh, they usually have a slight sharpness to them, although they're still milder and softer than cheddar. In a pinch though, you can use a young, mild cheddar crumbled into bite-size chunks.
To me, giving up the homemade stock is the quick poutine's biggest sacrifice. Canned stocks, in particular beef stock, aren't nearly as good as homemade. Store-bought beef stock is often too beefy, too bland, too salty, or too artificial tasting. To combat bad beef stock, I decided to do a 2:1 blend of beef to chicken stock, thickening it with a roux and stirring in fish sauce and soy sauce to add a savory depth. A splash of rice vinegar gives the tanginess it needs.
If you're making homemade fries, there's really no shortcut: You should rinse and double-fry them for best results. If you really want to avoid frying, the easiest thing to do is buy a bag of freezer-aisle French fries and heat them in your oven.
Another option (though, admittedly, a little crazy) is fill a Thermos with the hot gravy, grab your bag of cheese curds, and go load up a plate of plain fries at your favorite spot (just make sure the establishment is okay with you doctoring the food that much). I know you may be tempted to order the fries for delivery, but fries that have sat for too long become soggy, an absolute no-no for poutine.
With all the ingredients in place, the assembly goes like this: Pile the fresh fries into a shallow bowl or plate, top generously with room temperature cheese curds, then ladle on the hot gravy.
It all comes down to your priorities. If only the absolute best poutine will do, follow my perfect poutine recipe and get ready for it to take some time. If you're willing to sacrifice a small amount of quality in favor of speed, you won't be disappointed with this version.