Tuesday, May 14, 2013

'Scalloped' Potato Poutine

This weeks Chefsteps challenge was to highlight a dish from a local restaurant and recreate it with a modernist spin. 

About a year and a half ago, a food truck called Kangaroostaurant showed up at the Saturday morning farmer's market.  We stopped by for breakfast that morning and have been going back to be fed by Kelly, Jay and the crew ever since.  They are a proud part of the community, sourcing almost all ingredients from local farmers and purveyors.  They started out doing prep in a commercial kitchen for rent, but quickly outgrew it.  Then they found a space at the girl scout commercial kitchen for a while, but knew that was temporary too.  Again they moved, into the kitchen at the Riverview Gardens, a local green space and community center.  All of these kitchens gave them a base for their operations, but it wasn't until this winter that they found a home and opened the Kangaroost.  As on the truck, the menu changes almost daily based on whatever is fresh and local, and highlights the best food products available in our community.  I'd describe the cuisine as global comfort food produced locally.



On occasion, they offer their version of what may just be Canada's greatest contribution to global cuisine:  Poutine.  I don't think most folks in Wisconsin know what poutine is.  Fries?  With gravy? And cheese curds?  Stop it.  That's more deliciousness than most of us can handle.

Kangaroost Poutine

For the challenge, I thought I'd do a modernist version of Poutine in honor of the Kangaroost.   

I started off with the gravy.  I made a brown beef stock in the pressure cooker, then reduced it by about half to intensify the flavor.  I seasoned the jus, and thickened with 1% Xanthan and 1% Iota Carageenan to provide some thermal stability and gravyish consistency.  I wanted to keep the gravy lighter, so I didn't use flour.  I'd never worked with Iota Carageenan before, but as luck would have it, I had apparently been thinking ahead during a modernist pantry order, and I had some on hand.  I wanted a gel structure that would be stable when hot, and that I could break apart the gel matrix and it would reset.  Iota C seemed perfect for this.  It seemed to work ok, because as I heated the jus back up it got nice and thick.  Hopefully it would hold together with the potatoes through the cooking process.  

Then I took potatoes and thinly sliced them, dipping the slices in some cream with salt and pepper.  I laid the potatoes out in a flat sheet, overlapping slightly to create about a 12" x 12" square (or an 18 x 12 rectangle judging from the pic).  Then I put another layer of potatoes on top of these.  I topped the potatoes with the gravy gel (this didn't spread as well as I'd hoped), then rolled as tightly in plastic wrap as I could (this also didn't roll as well as I'd hoped, but I eventually managed).  I compressed the torchons with a few more wraps (ok, ok, an excessive number of wraps) and then cooked in the sous vide circulator at 90C for about 45 minutes.  Luckily, I made 2.
Potato Sheet

Potato Sheet with Gravy - Not the prettiest picture

Potato Torchon - well wrapped

I removed the first one from the circulator, unwrapped and sliced into pieces about 3 inches long.  These went into the deep fryer to get nice and crispy on the outside.  And after a few short minutes in the fryer, they came unwrapped and I was left with a batch of potato chips.  Like I said, lucky I had 2.  I stuck the second potato torchon in the fridge overnight to try again the next day.   

I had to rethink my dish at this point.  Deep frying the potatoes didn't work.  For my second and final attempt to finish the dish, I sliced the potato roll into about 1" long rounds.  The resting period in the fridge had certainly helped them bond together a little better.  Then I pan fried these until crispy, flipping over to get both sides. 

For the cheese, I had some Red Barn Heritage Weis Cheddar that I grated finely.  This cheese is fantastic and made locally here.  It took the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals in it's category at the 2012 World Cheese Championships, which I guess isn't too bad of a showing.

Red Barn's Heritage Weis Cheddar

As I looked at the components in front of me, the final plating started to take shape.  It wasn't the original plan, but I think it turned out better.  I put down a bed of the finely grated cheddar, then placed the potato rounds on top.  I finished with Maldon Sea Salt and chopped Chives.  It might not look like poutine, but I think it looks pretty good. 

'Scalloped' Potato Poutine
Modernist 'Scalloped' Potato Poutine

*Also...Big thanks to Heat for pointing out the obvious!

n occasion, they offer their version of what may just be Canada's greatest culinary contribution:  Poutine.  I don't think most folks in Wisconsin know what poutine is.  Fries?  With gravy? And cheese curds?  Stop i - See more at: http://forum.chefsteps.com/discussion/589/culinary-challenge-10-put-your-own-spin-on-a-favorite-dish-from-wherever-you-live#late