The Guilty Pleasure: Poutine
Where to Get It: Short Leash Hot Dogs
What it Really Costs: The usual pants-tightening effect that occurs after you eat something so delicious.
Poutine, the famous Québécois dish that resembles something like a French fry gravy sundae, is so popular in its native land that Canadian locations of McDonald’s and Burger King now offer it as a side.
Although not quite as ubiquitous in the U.S., poutine enjoyed its moment in the sun a few years ago, when it started popping up on menus from Brooklyn to LA. The poutine craze may have died down a bit since then, but it’s clear that the astronomically high caloric dish is here to stay. Like many guilty pleasures, poutine has earned a reputation as a late-night, booze-soaking, pain-easing snack, which you may find yourself consuming inelegantly with your bare hands, usually at a ravenous pace (you don’t want the gravy to go cold).
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Whether poutine can help cure your hangover or not may be up for debate, but few will dispute the fact that a well-prepared plate of poutine is enormously appealing. The enduring popularity of poutine lies in its simplicity, although the dish also lends itself well to swanky substitutions. At fancy poutinerie joints, you’ll find it being made with ingredients like foie gras and lobster.
In its classic configuration, however, poutine contains only three elements: French fries, gravy and cheese curds. That’s how you’ll find it being made at Short Leash Hot Dogs in Phoenix. For $10, the kitchen will deliver a tray full of hot, crispy French fries, smothered in a homemade beef broth gravy and topped with a fistful of squeaky-fresh cheese curds, which are sourced locally from the United Dairymen of Arizona in Tempe.
The makings of a great poutine require hot, crisp, thick-cut fries, which you’ll find here, doused in the kitchen’s rich, lightly salty beef gravy. Then there are the delightfully fresh curds, creamy little nubs that add a cool freshness to the dish.
Sure, it may not be the most nutritionally sound meal you’ve ever consumed, but it’s a messy heap of rich, salty flavor, totally devoid of pretension yet high in the comforting properties associated with good, fatty food. It’s a purist’s poutine, and one not likely to go out of style any time soon.