Dress Up Poutine With A Rich Red Wine Gravy

From tater kegs to gochujang wings, elevated bar snacks are having a moment — and it would be impossible to talk about elevated bar snacks without mentioning the greasy darling of the Montreal food scene: poutine. This hearty, savory, Canadian comfort food marries crispy fries with brown gravy and just-melted cheese curds. Poutine isn't a dish you'll see folks digging into at lunchtime. It's best served late at night or first thing in the morning, commonly bookended by heavily poured libations. There's even a Québécois name for this gastronomic class of food: "casse-croûtes," meaning "greasy spoon." After word spread, plenty of American joints serve poutine now, too.

Don't get it twisted, poutine is far from just a booze sponge. It's a perfectly orchestrated balancing act where the cheese curds are warmed through without melting into the gravy. All the toasty ingredients side-by-side somehow make each other even tastier. Alas, poutine does share the same fatal flaw as most bar snacks: It can either be incredible or just taste greasy and bland. Don't let your homemade poutine turn out this way. It's time to break out the red wine gravy.

Traditionally, poutine uses a simple beef-stock gravy. However, with its umami-forward combination of red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth, red wine gravy could be the sophisticated facelift your poutine didn't even know it wanted.

Nothing to wine about here

To make a batch of red wine gravy, simply sauté some minced shallots, garlic, and dried thyme in a saucepan. Then, stir in the red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth or stock. By adding more or less stock, you can adjust the thickness to your liking. Just be sure not to slice your fries too thin. To maintain their structural integrity as a vehicle for the cheese curds and thick gravy, your fries will need to pack a little girth.

Store-bought gravy is fine too, if you can find it. Red wine gravy isn't quite as common in grocery stores as the chicken or beef varieties. If you're going the store-bought route, dress your gravy up a little with an extra slug of red wine. Pro tip: You can whip up a large batch of red wine gravy all at once and then freeze it for easy access for future late-night poutines. When frozen, it'll last for about three to four months. 

Top your red wine gravy poutine with a fried egg and chives for a sophisticated hangover breakfast (we've all been there). You could even turn your comfort food into a hair-of-the-dog dish with a Corpse Reviver No. 1 cocktail. The drink's flavors of cognac, vermouth, standard grape brandy, and Calvados (French apple brandy) will complement the poutine well. Or, for impressive dinner party hors d'oeuvres, you could garnish your red wine gravy poutine with fresh parsley and chunks of duck confit.