The Canadian Grand Prix – Some very unhealthy dishes and an exciting race

Last night was the Canadian GP and, due to there being rather a lot of rain there, it didn’t finish till gone 11pm French time! So my post is a little late coming up..  Before this race the only Canadian food I was aware of was maple syrup.  Not wanting to cook something as obvious as pancakes I decided to do a little research.  What I found was that an awful lot of Canadian dishes are very unhealthy!

Most Canadian cuisine is imported from elsewhere, brought along by the various settlers.  The national dish (after maple syrup) is something called Poutine; this consists of chips with fresh curd cheese and gravy.  Other delicacies include butter tarts, donair (a Canadian take on a donner kebab) and Pierogis (boiled baked or fired dumplings).

The race was held in Montreal so I decided to try two dishes originating in Quebec; the poutine and some Monte Cristo sandwiches (a sort of deep fried croque monsieur).

Poutine and Monte Cristo Sandwiches

I made the poutine for our lunch.  The cheddar cheese curdsI should have used need to be obtained and used within 24 hours of their manufacture or else their characteristic “squeak” is lost.  As fresh curds were not available I substituted them for small mozzeralla balls.

The ingredients for poutine

This was a very simple dish to make.  I peeled and chopped my potatoes to make chips and wrapped them in a tea-towel to absorb some of the moisture.  While the chips were drying slightly I made a roux in my little saucepan to which I added chicken stock slowly to create a gravy (no measurements I’m afraid as I’m still in the little kitchen with no equipment!).

making the gravy

With the gravy bubbling away I placed my pan of oil (a thick bottomed frying pan!) onto the heat to warm through and when this was hot added the potatoes.

Making chips

After about 10 minutes the chips were cooked through.  They weren’t crisp as the oil was not hot enough (despite being on the highest setting), but I figured that as they were soon going to be covered in gravy this was not a huge issue.  With the chips cooked I fished them out of the pan with a dessert spoon (the only slotted spoon we have is plastic!) and divided them up over two plates.  I then tore my little mozzarella balls and scattered the cheese and poured over my gravy.

The finished Poutine

Because I used chicken stock and didn’t have any browning to hand my gravy was quite light in colour (it looked more like a butter sauce) but it tasted great.  I have to admit that I was quite sceptical about the gravy and cheese mix but they actually worked together pretty well.  The whole thing was very moorish (I blame the salt and the fat!) and I can see why it’s become so popular!  If I ever get the chance to visit Canada I can’t wait to try an authentic version made with the proper  cheese.

After our lunch of poutine we had a stroll to try and work off some of the calories before digging into our monte cristo sandwiches.  These seem to be eaten all over America, but a version originating from Quebeccaught my eye.  I altered this slightly (I used pre-made mustard mayo, skipped the egg whites and made the batter by sight!) but stuck largely to what was written.

Ingredients for the Monte Cristo sandwiches

I had to do a little bit of improvising in that I was unable to find ready-made breadcrumbs.  Lacking my mini chopper I wasn’t sure how to make my own, but after eating a brioche toast with some pate on I realised I had stumbled across a product which nice and crispy and just loved to turn to crumbs (they got everywhere!).  Therefore I started proceedings by gently crushing three brioche toasts into crumbs and they broke up in much the same way as an oxo cube!

My improvised breadcrumbs

I then proceeded to make my batter.  For this I used about half a tub of crème fraiche (I’d guess about 100mls) an egg and a splash of milk all whisked up together.

The batter mix

I then assembled my sandwiches, starting by slathering each piece of bread in mustard mayo.  Onto this I added a slice of ham, a slice of turkey and some gruyere cheese, topping everything off with the other slice. Then I cut the sandwiches in half ready to fry.

Assembling the sandwiches

The sandwich halves went first into the batter, then into the breadcrumbs and finally into a pan of hot oil (recycled from making the chips for poutine).  This was another quick dish, the sandwiches needed less than a minute each side before they were ready to eat.

Coating and cooking the sandwiches

The sandwiches ready to eat!

The result looked like a weird hybrid between a croque monsieur and a chicken cordon blu.  The outside had a deliciously crisp texture and the inside was gooey from the mayo and the melted cheese.  I have to say that, as with the poutine, this dish was delicious.  It was very rich and two triangles proved to be a little too much for me to eat, but I enjoyed every bite (I won’t fancy getting on the scales tomorrow mind!)

The race itself was very exciting.  It was the first wet race of the season and there was plenty of action!  The race started under the safety car and after a few mad laps in which Lewis Hamilton managed to collide with his teammate and put himself out of the race the red flag came out after 25 laps halting the action for two hours.  By the time action finally re-started later French TV had given up and was showing Taxi 2 so I had to rely on the radio to know what was going on.

After the re-start Button had a collision with Alonso which resulted in Alonso retiring and Button limping back to the pits with a puncture.  He eventually re-emerged in last place and then proceeded to drive the race of his life carving his way up the field.  By the time of the last lap he had made it all the way to second place and a uncharacteristic mistake from Vettel saw Button cruise to his first win of the season and possible the best race of his life!

A thoroughly thrilling race which the French TV completely failed to capture.  I will have to start investigating alternative options for the future races!


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2 Responses to “The Canadian Grand Prix – Some very unhealthy dishes and an exciting race”

  1. Corina Says:

    Both dishes look great – but I don’t think I could manage them both on the same day! I love investigating new cuisines too and it’s interesting to hear about these dishes from Canada.

  2. Nathalie Says:

    I know about the poutine from a Canadian colleague and have to say I’ve never fancied it but I’m glad to hear it’s actually quite nice! I do however really fancy the sandwich – I can feel a weekend treat coming on!

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