Canada, we salute you: A healthier take on gravy fries

Penelope Wall

I’m not French-Canadian, but the town where I grew up is in northern Vermont and on most nights you could see the bright lights from the Canadian border crossing just a few miles up the road.

When I was on the high school Nordic ski team, we’d drive up to Quebec City each year for preseason training. Two things I’ll never forget from my first trip there: seeing an otherwise super-fit, super-healthy skier stop in the middle of the trail to take a cigarette break, and the poutine.

Related Link: Classic French Recipes Made Healthy

Poutine (pu-teen)—fries topped with gravy and cheese curds—is a French-Canadian classic. But until that point, I’d only ever seen it at diners and fast-food restaurants, not in a Nordic ski-center cafeteria. When my typical post-training snack included such healthful components as water, a granola bar and clementines, poutine seemed an unlikely menu option for a group of teenagers who had just worked out all day. But in retrospect, I think it’s kinda genius: packing a plateful of filling carbs with some delicious salty protein for staying power.

Related Link: One Frenchwoman's Secret to the Effortless Meal

Truthfully, poutine is just glorified fast food. And most people aren’t consuming it as a reward for cross-country skiing 20 miles. Which is why I was thrilled when the EatingWell Test Kitchen developed this version for the latest issue of EatingWell Magazine. You can make it healthier at home by oven-frying the potatoes and topping them with grease-free gravy and just a touch of extra-sharp Cheddar cheese. C’est si bon!

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Oven-Fry Poutine with Mushroom Gravy

Makes: 4 servings, about 3/4 cup potatoes & 1/3 cup gravy each
Active time: 35 minutes | Total: 35 minutes

1 1/2 pounds new or baby potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth or mushroom broth, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped cremini or white mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450°F.
2. Combine potatoes, 2 teaspoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the potatoes are tender and browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Whisk 1/2 cup broth and flour in a small bowl; set aside.
4. Heat the remaining 3 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup broth; bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Add the reserved flour and broth mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened, 1 to 3 minutes. Stir in chives and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; keep warm on low heat.
6. When the potatoes are done, push them together in the center of the pan and sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven; bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes more. Serve the potatoes topped with the gravy.

Per serving: 274 calories; 11 g fat (4 g sat, 6 g mono); 17 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 9 g protein; 4 g fiber; 489 mg sodium; 920 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Potassium (26% daily value), Vitamin C (25% dv), Folate (16% dv).

Have you ever tried poutine?

Penelope is a web producer and writer for social & interactive media at When she's not busy geeking out at the computer, she loves cooking and trying new recipes on her friends. Some of her favorite foods are dark chocolate, coffee, apples, sweet potatoes and cheese.

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