As a proud Québécoise, I could never deny my love for poutine. Unless you lived in Quebec (or visited the province), you either don’t know what poutine is or tasted a sad attempt to copy it. A real poutine is made with fresh squeaky cheese curds, perfectly thick French fries, and beef gravy. It’s A-mazing and, as the tradition goes, it is always my first meal each time I return to la belle province. A couple of years ago, I finally found a few stores that sell cheese curds in Virginia but they are usually frozen and nowhere near as good as the fresh stuff. I still make poutine, once or twice a year, with canned gravy brought from Quebec, French fries from Five Guys, and thawed cheese curds. It’s not quite the same but it makes me happy and gives me a little taste of home.
Now to explain what I came up with today. Obviously, regular poutine is a very unhealthy dish. How could this ever be in line with the Paleo guidelines? Well, all you need is a little bit of imagination. Today, I had planned to make beef chili. Once again, Reddit was my main source of inspiration. I found a bacon chili recipe and kind of improvised with that idea in mind.
I got my slow cooker out of the cupboard and I threw in: 1lb of local ground beef, 2 cups of chopped onions, 1/3lb of cooked (in a separate pan, minutes earlier) bacon bites, 6-8 cups of water (I admit it was too much, I’d suggest 4-6 instead) and a chili seasoning package sent by my November Foodie PenPal, Traci. I cooked it on low for 5 hours and it smelled so good throughout the house, all afternoon.
A problem emerged when I realized that my favorite side dishes to enjoy with chili (spaghetti, bread, hot-dog) wouldn’t be, in any way, Paleo. So I had to improvise with what I had around the house. That’s when Reddit came to the rescue, once more. I remembered reading about someone doing chili fries with sweet potato fries. Why not? I made the fries in the oven (400˚F for 30-40 minutes) after tossing them in a little bit of olive oil and sea salt. Of course, my poutine-brain assumed that fries and “sauce” also needed to involve cheese! I shredded a little bit of sharp cheddar and dinner was ready!
The result was close enough to poutine to keep me happy, but still far enough to stay healthy. Thankfully for me, I filled two big containers with leftover chili that I plan to freeze for more Paleo-poutine dinners in the upcoming weeks!