Canada’s birthday is coming up, meaning it’s the perfect occasion to celebrate everything Canadian. While we don’t have a very unique culinary experience for visitors, there are a few things we’re extremely proud of: Tim Horton’s, beaver tails, Nanaimo bars, and poutine. While these dishes are seldom found on a runner’s weekly menu, I wanted to try to put a spin on one of my country’s national dishes.

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When one thinks of poutine, it’s kind of a known fact that the ingredients are simple but not the best for you. Fries, beef gravy, and cheese curds… it’s a wonder why any one would want to try this seemingly unappetizing dish. I think the first time I had poutine it was a very sub-par version from New York Fries in Nanaimo when my cousin convinced my sister and I that it was the best thing ever. Being 10 years old and excited to live in Canada, she sold me just on the sole idea of it being the greatest. It wasn’t. Needless to say my poutine consumption isn’t very frequent. Well, until now.

Baking matchstick sliced potatoes and yams, whipping up a pot of mushroom gravy, sautéing some organic chicken sausage, and sprinkling with chopped up mini low-fat bocconcini, I found my version of poutine that I didn’t feel guilty about eating. While it’s not the traditional flavours or ingredients, I think it tastes pretty damn good.

Non-traditional poutine

INGREDIENTS:

1 russet potato
1 yam
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup water
1 cup low-sodium beef or mushroom broth
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup cremini or white mushrooms, roughly chopped
¼ cup onion, fine chopped
½ cup mini bocconcini, quartered
chives, sliced
200g sausage of choice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Slice the yam and potato into matchsticks: half the potato, then half again. Slice the quarters, then slice those into matchsticks.
  3. Combine the potatoes and yams in a bowl with olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, in a single layer otherwise they won’t cool as well.
  4. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout.
  5. While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together ½ cup broth and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.
  6. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add mushrooms and onions. Stirring often, cook the mushrooms and onions until beginning to brown, about five to seven minutes. Once cooked, add water and remaining broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by about half: eight to ten minutes.
  7. Stir in the flour and broth mixture, stirring constantly until the gravy has smoothed and thickened. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Meanwhile, slice the sausage into rounds and sauté until browned. Set aside.
  9. Once the potatoes are down, place into a cast iron skillet, or an over-proof dish. Sprinkle with chopped bocconcini and place back in to the oven for about five minutes, until the cheese had melted.
  10. Serve the potatoes with sliced sausages, gravy and top with chives.

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