A scandalous guide to low-carb poutine without cheese curds

Uh-oh! If you’re a poutine purist, back away now! This low-carb poutine with too many substitutions to the point that it’s borderline recognizable as poutine will frighten you. But if you’re looking for a pragmatic and doable homemade version of the classic Québecois dish, proceed onwards…at your peril!

The first time I ever tried poutine was in Paris when my friend Danny from Montréal made it for me. He gifted me packages of the powdered beef gravy that he promised made authentic poutine that any Canadian would be proud of. I took them home and treasured them for years.

The memory of my first bite of squeaky cheese curds covered in umami gravy followed by the most sinful bite of fries is etched into my taste buds. That’s why I still fondly make poutine during chilly winters. Boulder’s snowy climate has given me even greater reason to dust off my poutine recipe.

RELATED: Looking for winter comfort? Check out the 5-minute hot chocolate recipe.

However, thanks to Alex’s low-carb diet and the difficulty of finding cheese curds, as well as our lack of beef broth due to shopping at Costco (I know, excuses, excuses, excuses!), I’m making unholy adulterated poutine. It’s a healthier, easier, and more practical version. Read on to hear all the substitutions and why I think you should make it.

How to make poutine low carb

We switched out the fries for super-firm block tofu that is cut into thin slices. Pan frying the slices of super-firm tofu in hot oil gets them crispy like fries.

To be sure, I still make a few fries if I’m feeling energetic to accompany my half of the poutine (Alex is highly disciplined and sticks to his tofu version). Considering how easy frozen french fries are to heat up in the oven, it’s up to you whether you want to make tofu-only or tofu + fries poutine.

RELATED: Learn more about block tofu and how it fits into the family of tofu.

How to make poutine without cheese cards

Yeeeeeah. I know I should use cheddar cheese curds. If it doesn’t squeak, then it’s not the real deal. But my golly, cheese curds are hard to find in Boulder. I heard I should visit the Cheese Importers in Longmont and I’ve heard whispers about Sprouts carrying them.

As long as this is the most bastardized version of poutine you’ll find, I went with gruyère as my cheese of choice (hey, at least it’s French-sounding). You can cube gruyère as I do in the recipe. You can slice the gruyère (or any other cheese you want to use as a substitute for cheese curds) and then zap the poutine in the microwave to melt the cheese before serving.

RELATED: Cheese lover? Check out the raclette recipe for how to pan fry cheese and serve it with your favorite foods.

How to make gravy for poutine

I’ve already slaughtered the french fry and cheese curd sacred cows. What else is left? Well, poutine is made of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Naturally, I’ve also tweaked the gravy.

Because I have plenty of chicken bone broth in my kitchen, I made a chicken gravy. You’re welcome to use whatever broth you have on hand. You could make the poutine vegetarian by using a vegetarian broth. You could also make the authentic Canadian version by using beef broth or powdered beef gravy to sauce the poutine.

Last-minute poutine abominations

As long as we’re going to adulterate the classic poutine recipe, let’s throw out a few other delicious-sounding variations for fun. I’ve heard of the following additions to poutine that sound scandalous even to me.

  • Chunks of ham
  • Slices of duck ham
  • Caramelized onions
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Herbs
  • Beef strips (“fajita” style)
  • Cheese sauce (ew, Velveeta, that’s just a step too far)
  • Cooked lobster
  • Cut-up hotdogs
  • Green chile
  • Bacon

I better stop before the pitchforks come out. Here’s my shamelessly adulterated poutine recipe. What a travesty!


Low-carb poutine with cubed cheese

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The most adulterated poutine recipe that's low carb and switched out squeaky cheese curds for cubes of gruyère. It's a pragmatic homemade version that hits the spot. Feel free to substitute for authentic ingredients if you're adamant about making the real deal.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: 10 ingredients or less, comfort, family-friendly, winter
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 377kcal
Author: Anna Rider
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • whisk
  • Knife
  • Chopping Board
  • Frying Pan
  • Baking Tray

Ingredients

Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) Flour
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Canola oil
  • 1 cup (250 ml) broth, beef brother is authentic but chicken or vegetable is OK

Additional poutine ingredients

  • 1 lb. (454 g) Tofu, 1 block of super-firm block tofu works best
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Canola oil, for pan frying the tofu
  • 1 cup (120 g) cheese, cheese curds are best but use whatever you have
  • 1 cup (240 g) fries, optional and highly recommended

Instructions

  • Gather the ingredients.
  • If you plan on serving poutine with fries, prepare your frozen fries by following the instructions listed on the package. This allows your fries to bake while you prepare the rest of the poutine.

Prepare the gravy

  • Heat the flour and oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Combine and stir with a whisk continuously to form a smooth paste and to avoid burning.
  • Cook the roux until it is golden brown. Remember to keep stirring to avoid burning. It should take about 1 to 2 minutes until the roux smells fragrant and nutty.
  • Whisk in the broth and continue stirring until smooth. Cook the gravy for about 1 to 3 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Set aside for later.

Fry the tofu

  • Slice the super-firm tofu into thin slices. Pat the slices of tofu try to avoid oil splatter when pan frying later.
  • Heat the additional oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced tofu and fry until the outside is golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Assemble the poutine

  • Cut the cheese into cubes if you're not using cheese curds. I like to cut the block of cheese into 0.5 inch/1 cm cubes.
  • Put the fried tofu on a plate. Add the cubed cheese on top. If you want to serve poutine with fries, add the fries alongside the cheese.
  • Gently pour the gravy over the tofu, cheese, and (optional) fries.
  • Enjoy your poutine!

Notes

  • If you can’t find super-firm tofu, extra-firm tofu is OK as a substitute. Just make sure you press out extra liquid.
  • You can add extra cheese beyond the quantity listed in the ingredients list if you like
  • Frozen fries are the easiest to prepare

Nutrition

Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 700mg | Potassium: 282mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 408IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 209mg | Iron: 1mg
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About Anna Rider

Hi! I'm Anna, a food writer who documents kitchen experiments on GarlicDelight.com with the help of my physicist and taste-testing husband, Alex. I have an insatiable appetite for noodles 🍜 and believe in "improv cooking".

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