For those of you unfamiliar with poutine, it is one of Montreal's most famous dishes and is sweeping the nation right now. The story goes that a restaurant patron asked for cheese and french fries in a bag, and his host exclaimed "ça va faire une maudite poutine", or "it will make a *^%# mess!" (poutine translates as mess.) Traditionally, poutine contains french fried potatoes, gravy - usually with a chicken base, but often something like a Knorr packet gravy - and fresh cheese curds that "squeak."
Of course, a food desert isn't going to have fresh cheese curds - nor will I tolerate canned mushrooms or "gravy packets" for the purposes of this project...so I started by making my own cheese.
I'd been intending to experiment with Indian Paneer cheese for some time; after all, there are a great many terrific South Indian dishes that use Paneer, and besides - if you make the cheese, you control both fat and salt. I found many, many recipes online, so I'll offer you my conglomeration:
Food Desert Paneer
4 cups milk
1/2 cup yogurt or yogurt whey
1 tsp vinegar
Bring the milk to a boil, add the other ingredients and whisk briskly.
Adjusting the heat carefully so that your milk does not boil over, continue whisking until you start to see clumps of cheese on your whisk. Stop mixing and wait until the cheese and whey separate completely and you have a milky blob floating in a yellowish liquid. Strain through a clean coffee filter* and allow to drain for a few minutes. Wrap the cheese carefully in the coffee filter (you should have a tuna-can-size disc, enough for about four to six servings) and put it on a plate in the refrigerator with a heavy weight (like a gallon of milk, if you can keep it stable) on top. Nutritional Information
I decided that a traditional stock-based sauce would be too bland, so I opted for Sauce Allemande or Sauce Blonde, a stock-based sauce thickened by both a roux and a custard.
Food Desert Sauce Allemande
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
(a shot of white wine wouldn't hurt)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg yolk
Salt, pepper, chili flakes
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and whisk constantly, cooking until the mixture has reached a decidedly tan color. Add the chicken stock (and wine) and bring to a boil; it will thicken - continue to cook and taste for seasoning; add salt and pepper and chili flakes as desired. Cool slightly. Whisk the egg yolk and the milk (I use 1%) in a separate bowl. Add a small amount of the sauce to the egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously. Again whisking vigorously, pour the tempered egg mixture into the sauce, which should thin out and then thicken as the eggs cook slightly (you may need to return your pot to low heat for a few seconds - stir, stir, stir!)
To assemble Poutine:
Heat 1 can green beens by lightly sautéing in a dry skillet. Pile onto a plate and cover with chunks of paneer cheese. Pour on the Allemande Sauce and serve immediately. Serves 2. Nutritional Information
*Don't throw out the whey! There are all kinds of uses for it - I plan to make ricotta cheese with mine, but you could use it instead of water when you make bread, you could use it to cook rice or polenta, etc.
Entered in the BSI Contest at http://ruchikacooks.com/