There's a lot to love about poutine, the Canadian dish of brown gravy- and cheese curd-topped fries. But it's not exactly a good finger food at a party, unless you like the idea of dozens of gravy-coated fingers being wiped on the couch. Well, we'd like to introduce the solution to that problem: the Poutine Popper.
Why this recipe works:
- The tater-tot shape makes them easy to share and perfectly portioned for parties.
- Serving gravy on the side keeps the poppers crisp on the outside.
Note: While there's nothing quite like the real thing, you can use mozzarella cubes if you're unable to find cheese curds in your area. I use beef bouillon cubes in this recipe to recreate the classic fast-food taste of poutine, but if you prefer to use actual stock, I recommend this brown gravy, which uses chicken stock with soy sauce and marmite (we don't recommend store-bought beef broth, which is almost always poor quality).
- 6 medium russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
- Canola, vegetable, or peanut oil, for brushing and deep frying
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces cheese curds (see note)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 beef bouillon cubes (or 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules; see note)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place potatoes on top. Brush potatoes all over with oil and bake until pierced easily with a fork, about 40 minutes.
Let potatoes stand until cool enough to handle. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, scoop out the potato flesh and transfer to a bowl. Reserve the skins for another use, such as potato skins, if desired.
Mix potatoes with 1/4 cup flour along with the salt pepper. Working one at a time, shape potato mixture into 1 1/2-inch cylinders, then flatten into your palm, and place 1 or 2 cheese curds, depending on their size, in the center. Using your fingers, fold the potato around the cheese to re-form the cylinder, making sure the cheese isn't poking through in any spots. Set on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining potato and curds. Set aside.
Combine the water and beef bouillon in a microwave-safe container and microwave until hot, about 1 1/2 minutes; stir to blend. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and mix in remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Cook until lightly browned, then whisk in beef broth. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and reduce to a simmer. Stir in garlic and onion powders and cook, stirring, until gravy thickens, about 3 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.
In a deep fryer, Dutch oven, or wok, heat at least 2 inches of oil to 375°F. Working in batches of 4 or 5, add poppers to oil and fry until golden brown, flipping for even browning all over, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer fried poppers to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve right away with warm gravy.
Deep-fryer, wok or Dutch oven