Hannah Palmer Egan
Poutine is better with bacon gravy.
For my feature story this week, I wrote about the troubles egg farmers face in winter. Via conversations with three Vermont eggers, I outlined a few of the myriad reasons why locavores may not see their favorite egg on the shelves every week. Then, last weekend, my mom gave me a dozen of my very favorite eggs — from Meg's Eggs, in Piermont, N.H. Just look at these beauties: Here's a shot on Instagram.
Long story short, I wanted to feature the egg front and center in Farmers Market Kitchen this week. I had some cheese curds from Sweet Rowen Farmstead
(I buy these whenever I see them at market — they're springy, salty, squeaky and cheap, and provide a ready excuse to make poutine at home), so I thought a poutine would be in order. With bacon buttermilk gravy, because it was snowing.
I usually make my home poutines with tater tots, but there weren't any at the store, so I subbed in curly fries (a close second) instead. Tater-tot awareness is very important for anyone looking to DIY this at home.
So, gravy is super-fun to make. Using bacon fat, watching it swirl together and thicken, rich with cream and fresh buttermilk from Mountain Home Farm
in Tunbridge ... then pouring it over the crunchiest fries, riddled with those glorious curds. I forgot the eggs altogether.
In the end, I was thankful. Though an over-easy egg would have added some extra decadence to the dish, it wasn't even remotely needed.
With that for dinner, it's dandelion greens — with eggs, of course! — for breakfast.
Naughty Bacon Poutine
Serves 2, or 4 with eggs
- 1/2 pound cheese curds
- Frozen french fries, tater tots, curly fries, etc.
- 1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch bits
- 2 (somewhat heaping) tablespoons flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup milk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Break your curds into small pieces, no larger than a dime. Leave these out so they warm up while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Spread the potatoes on a large cookie sheet and bake while you prepare the gravy, checking occasionally to make sure they're not burning. The trick is to get the fries super crispy so they won't turn to mush when you douse them in gravy and melted cheese. They also need to be nice and hot when it's time to serve them — to ensure your curds melt and the whole dish is hot — so make sure you time it right. The gravy takes about 20 minutes to make, and the fries should take about the same.
- In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until all of the pieces are crisp but not burning.
- Add the flour and whisk until it's absorbed into the bacon fat and forms fisheyes, 30 seconds to a minute. Do not brown the flour! It should look creamy and retain a pale grayish color.
- Combine the liquids and slowly pour into the bacon roux, whisking constantly. It should start to thicken on contact, but once all the liquid is added, it'll be pretty thin. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking often, until the gravy takes on a creamy, spoon-coating consistency, about 15 minutes.
- If you want to add eggs, make those as the gravy thickens.
- Remove the fries from the oven. Place a bit of gravy into a wide bowl, add half the fries, then half the curds, then more gravy. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. If desired, top with an egg or two: sunny-side up or over easy, for optimal gooey greatness.