Last week, on Top Chef, one of the teams completely failed in their challenge to do justice to cheese curds. Seriously?!? In fact, all the dishes were judged to be so bad last week that there was no winner. So, we’re decided to ditch making one of those recipes home cook-friendly and just show the Top Chefs how to do cheese curds the right way. Quite awhile ago, K had the idea to fuse shepherd’s pie and poutine and shepherd’s poutine was born. BOOM!
If you’re unfamiliar with poutine, it’s a traditional dish from Quebec made with french fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds to equal 100 percent awesome. Just gather your ingredients and get started.
Recipe serves two
Two russet potatoes
2 cups (approximately) canola oil (or another high heat oil)
Cut your potatoes into fries. Cut yours thinner than we cut ours — ours were too thick. If you want to cut down on the work, you could technically use frozen fries. Just be very careful when frying as little bits of ice can cause oil explosions (please don’t ask if I know this information from experience…).
Heat your oil in a large pot to about 320 degrees F. Fry the potatoes in small batches (don’t crowd) until golden brown and drain on paper towels or a wire rack. When your first round of frying is done, turn up the heat on the oil to no more than 370 degrees F. Fry the potatoes in batches again until even golden-er, browner and crispy. When you’re done with the fries, turn the oil back down to about 320 degrees F to get it ready to fry some cheese curds.
Meat and Gravy
1/2 lb ground lamb
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 pint mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 carrot, small dice
1/2 celery stalk, small dice
1/4 onion, small dice
1/4 red pepper, small dice
1 TB garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1 1/4 cup broth (vegetable, chicken or beef broth)
1.5 TB cornstarch
extra virgin olive oil
Brown the ground lamb in a bit of olive oil. In a separate saute pan, brown the mushrooms and add the fresh rosemary during the last minute of cooking. Add the mushrooms to the ground lamb and set aside.
Heat a bit of olive oil in a sauce pan. Add diced carrot, celery, onion and red pepper and saute until tender. Once tender, add garlic and lightly brown. Add the red wine and cook until it’s nearly evaporated then add the broth. Let cook for 7-10 minutes. Put the cornstarch in a small bowl and add just enough water to make the mixture liquid (aka a slurry).
Add the cornstarch mixture to the gravy and stir until thickened. Add lamb and mushrooms to the gravy mixture. Add a splash more Worcestershire sauce and some balsamic vinegar for depth, to taste. Salt and pepper to taste.
1 bag of cheese curds (you won’t use the whole bag)
1/4 cup + 1 TB rice flour
1/4 cup cold, lighter Pilsner-style beer (we used Kölsch)
1 egg (cold)
1 tsp smoked paprika
Pile the french fries on an oven-safe bowl and spoon a generous amount of meat and gravy mixture over the top. Dot the top with cheese curds. Put the entire bowl under the broiler until cheese is melted, bubbly and just starting to brown.
Mix the rice flour, cold beer, the cold egg and the paprika (it’s important everything is cold). Dip a few of the cheese curds into the batter and fry in the oil (temperature about 320 degrees F) until browned and crispy. Drain briefly on a paper towel and salt.
Put the fried cheese curds on top of the poutine and serve.
Tender french fries bursting with fresh potato taste, a tasty meat and veg mixture, melty cheese and smoky fried cheese on top. Now that’s how you celebrate a cheese curd, Top Chef!!