Thursday, 9 August 2012

Sacré Brew

A damn hot mess.
Of fries and gravy.

Quebec is home to a vibrant craft beer scene.  Montreal is home to many excellent brew pubs, and hosts the the annual Festival Mondial Biere in early June.  Admission is free and samples cost between $1 and $5. Find out more at  There are other great microbreweries in smaller towns, including Chambly to the east.  I’d love to do a road trip and visit each one.

McAuslan has been Quebec’s foremost brewery since 1989, and is located on St-Ambroise street in the St-Henri borough.  They .  The St. Ambroise label makes an excellent oatmeal stout, and produces Citrouille, possibly the best pumpkin ale on the market.

Dieu du Ciel is one of my favorite craft breweries of all time, as you may have noticed by the freequent references to their products on this blog. Their most popular products include Aphrodisiaque (a vanilla chocolate stout with a hint of bourbon) and Roseé d’Hibiscus (a wheat beer infused with hibiscus flowers).  The Route des Épices, a rye beer brewed with green and pink peppercorns, is another excellent example of the brewery’s innovative recipes.

It's pronounced "poo-tin", not "poo-teen".
Like Vladmir Putin.
Unibroue was born in 1990 when André Dion and Serge Racine became majority shareholders of La Brasserie Massawippi, a financially brewery in Lennoxville.  They partnered with a Belgian brewer, n, and began brewing in the style characterized by trappist monks in Europe.  Their beers are produced using traditional bottle fermentation methods, and are named after legends and myths from Quebec folklore.  Be sure to try Fin du Monde (“the End of the World”) before the Mayan calendar ends on December 21st.

Quebec has also contributed many unique traditions to Canadian cuisine, including tourtière (meat pie), sugar pie, and Montreal smoked meat.  Perhaps the most important culinary contribution originating in Quebec however, is poutine – the archetypal combination of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy.  The earliest mention of poutine in history was in 1957 at the restaurant Lutin Qui Rit.  A customer named Eddy Lanaisse wanted to purchase some fries, but saw cheese curds on the counter.  He requested that the fries and the curds be mixed together.  To this the restaurateur Fernand LaChance replied “ça va faire une maudite poutine” (it will make a damn mess).
Woodsmen in the sky with diamonds.

The word “Maudite” means “damned” or “cursed”, and has its own peculiar origin.  The Legend of “Chasse-Galerie” tells of eight daring woodsmen who pledged their souls to the devil, asking only that he would fly their canoe home to their village for the Holidays.  During the canoe’s majestic flight, one sailor chose to invoke the name of God, freeing himself from the pledge and causing the canoe to crash down to earth.  Maudite is an excellent beer by Unibroue, a strong wheat ale by that goes down way too easy.  The flavors of orange, coriander, and floral hops add a spicy complexity to the gravy in this quintessential Canadian comfort food.

Oven Fries

4 Russet potatoes
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Scrub and slice potatoes into long fry-shaped slices.
  3. Toss potatoes in olive oil, canola oil, and salt.
  4. Heat the oil to 300°F in frying pan.
  5. Add half the potatoes to frying pan and cook until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove first batch from pan and repeat with remaining potatoes.
  7. Spread fries onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment.
  8. Bake until crisp and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Note: Aside from being extremely delicious, olive oil has many health benefits (monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, etc.).  However, it has a low smoke point and is not a good frying oil.  Use some canola oil to get the best of both worlds.

Maudite Poutine

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 ¼ cups beef stock
¾ cup dark wheat ale
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp finely ground black pepper
1 recipe oven fries
1/2 pound fresh cheese curds

  1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the butter and flour. Whisk to form a roux.
  2. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes for a dark roux.
  3. Gradually add beef broth and beer, whisking thoroughly to combine.
  4. Season with Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove gravy from heat when completely thickened and keep warm.
  7. To assemble the poutine, place a mound of fries on each bowl or plate and top with cheese curds. Spoon gravy over fries and cheese to serve.

Montreal Poutine

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