Poutine. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Some people don't even know what it is (click here to view a recent video featuring Montréaler and Next Iron Chef Contestant, Chuck Hughes, for a short history). I, for one, can't get enough of it.
Invented in Québec, Canada in the mid-1900s, poutine traditionally consists of plate or bowl of hand-cut fries (not too crispy on the outside, fluffy and delicate on the inside), squeaky-fresh cheese curds, and piping hot chicken gravy (usually from dark chicken stock). Although pretty much ubiquitous in Canada, only recently has its popularity grown in the States.
Born and raised in Montréal, I've had a plethora of good and bad poutines, and I like to think that I'm experienced when it comes to this indigenous 'hot mess' of a dish. Sadly, since moving to Chicago (and in all my travels), I haven't been able to find a poutine as traditional as those from La Belle Province (read: Québec). That being said, it's not always about tradition.
Chefs have been taking great strides to make this dish a mainstream menu item. Whether it's the addition of non-conventional proteins (pork shoulder, headcheese) or the creation of complex gravies (lamb? why not!), the permutations of this modest peasant dish are truly endless.
In this slideshow, I've highlighted a handful of Chicago's takes on the Québec classic. Let me know where else I should try, eh!
View Poutine in Chicago in a larger map