If you’re a foodie, there is a chance you’ve been searching for where to find the best poutine in Quebec City. After all, one cannot visit Quebec City without trying one of the most famous French-Canadian dishes. Mmmmm poutine; crispy french fries mixed with fresh squeaky cheese curds and topped with chicken-beef velouté sauce. It’s the perfect comfort food, in particular between the hours of midnight and three o’clock in the morning. Warm. Crispy. Gooey. Poutine is gluttony at its finest.
History of Poutine
While most people know that poutine hails from the province of Quebec, many do not know who created the dish, and a couple stories are floating around about who is responsible for creating this comfort food sensation that is quickly taking the world by its cheesy gravy-soaked grasp.
The year is 1957, and Fernand Lachance is working in his restaurant L’Idéal (later known as Le lutin qui rit) in Warwick, Québec. When a customer comes in to order a bag of fries, asking Fernand to throw in some cheese curds as well (which he sold separately) as the customer was in a rush. Lachance complied, remarking that mixing the two would be a maudite poutine – Québécois slang for ‘a damn mess.’
According to family members, who still retain a copy of the restaurant menu from 1957, Lachance later added gravy to the mix, creating what we know today as poutine — which he sold for 35 cents a plate.
Sometime around 1964 in the town of Drummondville, Québec, Jean-Paul Roy’s restaurant, Le Roy Jucep, a drive-thru style restaurant with waitresses waiting on cars, noticed a new trend; customers were ordering fries, cheese, and sauce (gravy). Too lengthy for the servers to write, they decided to use the word ‘Putin,’ (pudding) a popular term at the time for any food mixture.
Convinced that he was the inventor of poutine, Jean-Paul Roy registered the trademark, The Inventor of Putin, in November 1998. Planning a visit to Drummondville? Stop by Le Roy Jucep for an order of poutine; it’s a must for poutine lovers.
What about New Brunswick? The Acadians claim they invented poutine!
French colonists who refused to sign an unconditional oath of allegiance to the British, the Acadians lived in Eastern Canada: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and parts of Quebec. The British, unhappy about their refusal to fight against the French and Métis, decided to exile over 10,000 Acadians from their lands between 1755 and 1762. These tight-knit communities were torn apart. Some were shipped to France while others resettled in New England and Georgia. Two years later, when the British decided to allow small groups of Acadians to return to Canada, many returned, and today there are several Acadian communities scattered throughout the maritime provinces of Canada.
Similar to Québécois cuisine, Acadian cuisine relied heavily on root vegetables and wild game and plants and berries and fish. Meals were hearty and cheap, meant to both warm and fill the belly. One of the more popular dishes was Poutine Râpée.
Know as putsins, Poutine Râpée is a grated or mashed potato balls stuffed with salted pork and boiled for two to three hours, giving them a greyish colour. Putsins are often added to Fricot, a hearty soup of meat or fish and potatoes and broth, but they can also be eaten on their own with some maple syrup.
Traditional vs Gourmet
If you’re looking for the best poutine in Quebec City, where do you start? First, everyone needs to eat traditional poutine: crispy fries and fresh squeaky cheese topped with a chicken-beef velouté sauce. It is a mandatory part of your poutine education. And, frankly, after a night of bar-hopping in Grand Allée or Saint-Jean-Baptiste or Saint Roch, traditional poutine will taste like the best meal you have ever eaten in your life. After you’ve experienced traditional poutine, then it is time for some delightful gourmet poutine.Our choices for the best traditional poutine in Quebec City are:
A go-to spot for late night poutine lovers, Chez Ashton is a Québec fast food chain with several restaurants in Quebec City, including restaurants in Grand Allée, Vieux Quebec, and Saint-Roch. The first order of business? an order of traditional poutine served in a foil pan — perfect for keeping it hot. In winter, Chez Ashton offers poutine deals based on the weather: if it’s -15ºC, then your poutine is 15% off, -25ºC means 25% off, and so on.
SNACK-BAR SAINT JEAN
Snack-Bar Saint-Jean is the epitome of greasy deliciousness. This 24-hour restaurant on rue Saint-Jean, in Quebec’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighbourhood, is the go-to spot for bar-hopping locals. Not to mention those of us who crave heavy comfort food late at night or early in the morning. Start first with an order of poutine, then venture into other greasy delights like poutine grilled cheese or a hot dog or a crazy sounding burger combination. Gluttony at its finest.
One of our favourite things to do in Quebec in summer is to stop by a casse-croûte for wonderfully greasy comfort food. Casse-Croûtes are Quebec’s version of a greasy spoon eatery and can be found on the side of the road. Some are trailers, others are small shacks, but most offer the same foods: poutine, burgers, and hot dogs.
Relatively new to Quebec City, Poutineville is located on rue Saint-Joseph Ouest in the neighbourhood of Saint-Roch. A Montréal poutine chain, Poutineville is the perfect place for those who love poutine and are not afraid to mix flavours. While the traditional poutine is delicious, we highly recommend trying their build-your-own poutine menu. A word of caution, the portions are HUGE, so come hungry — and don’t be afraid to order a kids-size poutine.
LE CHIC SHACK
We are big fans of Le Chic Shack, and make sure to visit at least once a month. While their gourmet burgers and milkshakes are divine, sometimes we NEED a bowl of mouth-watering gourmet poutine made with large potato wedges instead of fries. While we like them all, we highly recommend trying La Braisée (braised beef in red wine, parmesan, cheese curds, horseradish aioli) or La Forestière (Wild mushroom ragout, parmesan, cheese curds, French shallots).
A popular restaurant chain in Quebec City, Cochon Dingue serves up North American cuisine, including some French-Canadian favourites like poutine. Cochon Dingue offers two gourmet poutines: All-Dressed (fries, BBQ pulled pork, bacon-wrapped cocktail sausages, Perron cheddar cheese curds, and sauce) and Duck Confit (duck confit, cheese curds, and sauce).
La Poutine Week
You can enjoy poutine 24/7 365 days a year in Quebec City, but if you want to maximize your poutine consumption, we recommended visiting Quebec City during La Poutine Week (Feb 1st to 7th, 2017). Held in February each year, La Poutine Week is when various restaurants throughout Quebec City (as well as Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto) create a unique gourmet poutine. It is the perfect time to visit restaurants you would not normally visit. Be sure to download the La Poutine Week app so you can share photos and vote for your favourite!
Anyone up for a poutine crawl through Quebec City?
Making Poutine at Home
Once you’ve eaten the best poutine in Quebec City, there is a good chance you’ll want to make it at home. The first thing you need to do is buy fresh cheese curds. We recommend picking up a bag, or three, while you are in Quebec City and bring them home with you. The cheese curds are a mandatory ingredient when creating your version of the best poutine in Quebec City. We also recommend buying a jar or can of duck fat. Yes, DUCK FAT!
Step One: Make a Chicken-Beef Velouté Sauce
While you can make chicken or turkey or beef gravy for your poutine, the best poutine is generally topped with a chicken-beef velouté sauce.
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups beef stock
- 4 tbsp clarified butter
- 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
In a saucepan bring the chicken and beef stock to a simmer, then lower the heat, and keep hot. In a separate saucepan, melt the clarified butter over medium heat until frothy, then using a wooden spoon, add the flour and stir until incorporated, creating a roux. Cook the roux for a couple minutes until it’s a light golden colour. Add the chicken and beef stock to the roux, and whisk heavily until smooth –no lumps!
Simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced in volume, stirring frequently to avoid burning on the bottom. You want the velouté to be smooth and creamy, and not too thick. When ready, remove from heat and pour through a mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth. Cover until ready to use.
Step Two: Make Crispy Fries
Now that you have a bowl of yummy chicken-beef velouté sauce made, it is time to make some crispy fries. The style of fries is entirely up to you: regular, shoestring, wedges, whatever makes your mouth happy. Once your potatoes have been cut and blanched, it is time to fry them up. We recommend using duck fat instead of oil. Not only for flavour, but for a better fry. Creating the best poutine in Quebec City means involves making crispy fries, and the best way to do that is to fry them twice.
Step Three: Serve
Once you have made the chicken-beef velouté sauce and crispy fries, it is time to serve up some delicious poutine. Stack fries into a bowl, add the fresh cheese curds, then top with the chicken-beef velouté sauce. Once all the ingredients have been added, it is time to dig in!
Tip: if you want to keep your poutine hot and you don’t care about being fancy, switch the bowl for a foil pan.
Are you ready to eat the best poutine in Quebec City?