We are composing this post at the beginning of February, and that means that we’re aiming this recipe at a certain very large football game that is coming up. And while this dish of golden fries, melty-savory cheese curds, rich gravy, and tender smoked brisket is going to be a game-changer for that event (and you should definitely make it for “that sporting event”), this one goes beyond game time. This one transcends sport. It has no need of parties. It only needs to be eaten. This is smoked brisket cheesy fries or, as it’s called up north, smoked brisket “poutine.”
We’ve talked a lot about french fries here, and goodness we’ve talked about brisket, but we’ve never put them together. Today is that joyful day! We’ll do a review of brisket cookery, a brief glance over fry cookery, and give you a recipe for excellent gravy that you’ll want to use on far more than this dish. Smoked brisket poutine is good. Let’s get into it.
Poutine smoked meat
Poutine is a phenomenal French-Canadian culinary innovation of french fries and cheese curds all smothered together in rich brown gravy. It’s amazing in its own right. But in Montreal, they take it to the next level by adding Montreal smoked meat to it. “Smoked meat” is Montreal’s answer to New York’s pastrami: a brisket, well seasoned with Montreal seasoning, smoked, and steamed until exceedingly tender. We followed suit by using Montreal seasoning for our brisket but didn’t do the steaming step, opting instead for a full smoke cook.
You can use any BBQ seasoning you like for your brisket, but the Montreal version is very nice and worth a try.
We cooked our brisket unwrapped for the entire cook, with our smoker set to 250°F (121°C), and took it off when our Signals™ alarm thermometer read 203°F (95°C) in the point, by which time our flat had risen to about 205°F (96°C). We verified the temp and the tenderness with our Thermapen® ONE, of course! We certainly didn’t need the whole brisket for this (we’d need a lot of fries to use all that meat), and you could just as easily cook a flat by itself for this, but the point meat was really what we wanted. Serve the flat meat on its own or save it for another meal later.
Homemade fries are better
The basis of any poutine is the fries and they’re important. You want that tasty, toasty fired flavor and light, pillowy fry-innards. Of course, the fries won’t stay crisp under the blanket of juicy meat and gravy, but they should start crisp. For that, we do a double-fry. Soak the fries first to remove surface sugars, dry them out to prevent exploding oil accidents, then fry them at 325°F (163°C) until blond, then rest them and fry them again at 375°F (191°C) until golden and crisp. A ChefAlarm® is perfect for the task, as its high- and low-temp alarms can help you set the temperature window for your fry, and its included pot clip is a great help. Salt them up while they’re hot, and your fry layer is ready.
Gravy for poutine
Gravy for poutine should be rich and flavorful. It’s usually made with beef or a combination of beef and chicken. Good homemade stock will work best, but a good stock or broth from the store is just fine for this—that’s what we used.
Poutine gravy can be thickened with cornstarch (added after boiling, as a slurry) or with a roux, either is fine, but we’re going with the roux-based version because we like the texture more. As a general rule for gravy, use 1 Tbsp flour and 1 Tbsp butter (or fat of your choice) per 1 C of beef stock. You can make it thicker or thinner to your liking.
To give the gravy a little more interest, we sauteed a shallot and a clove of garlic in the butter before making the roux and we added a splash of a couple tablespoons of red wine near the end of cooking. The results were perfect for poutine.
A note on assembly and preparation
Poutine has a lot of parts, and getting them to come out just right can be stressful, but don’t worry about it. You can prep your brisket well in advance. It can rest in a cooler for hours, after all. Chop it ahead of time, but don’t stress about it coming off the smoker at a certain time. Build in a large buffer for it and let it rest.
The cheese curds should sit out for a half hour or more before going on the fries so they don’t act like little ice cheeses in the mix. The gravy can be made ahead, even by a day or two. Just reheat it when you start on the second fry for your french fries.
Then there are the fries themselves. You can do the first fry on them as far as three days in advance, just keep them in the fridge (covered) or even in the freezer until you’re ready for the second fry. Before you do your second fry, make sure the brisket is chopped, the curds have sat out, and the gravy is warming. Then fry your fries (in safe-sized batches), pile them on a platter, top with curds and beef, then ladle on the gravy. Have forks, plates, and bibs ready! 2
This dish is not to be missed. It’s so good, and it deserves a showing at least every year, if not every quarter. For big football games, yes, but also for parties, for cold winter nights, for balmy summer evenings. Poutine—smoked brisket poutine—is one of the most joyful, rich, and fulfilling things we’ve cooked here at ThermoWorks in a good while—and that’s saying something! Try it out, get the temps just right, share with your friends, spread the word, and then make it again soon. You’ll be glad you did. Happy cooking!Print
Smoked brisket poutine, a lot like poutine smoked meat from Montreal.
- About 2 pounds smoked brisket, preferably point meat, seasoned with Montreal seasoning or your favorite rub and cooked to your liking (get the full instructions in this brisket primer)
- 1 batch (4 medium-large russet potatoes worth) homemade french fries, fried through their first cook, but not through their second yet (get the full instructions for homemade french fries)
- oil for frying
For the gravy:
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 C rich beef broth
- 2 Tbsp red wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb cheese curds
- Chives for garnish, chopped
- When you cook your brisket, make sure it is cooked to 203°F (95°C) by monitoring its internal temperature with your Signals BBQ Alarm Thermometer. Verify that temperature at the end of the cook with your Thermapen ONE.
- Rest the brisket in a warm oven or a cooler until ready to chop and serve, at least 1 hour.
- The first fry on the fries needs to be at 325°F (163°C), and will take about 3–4 minutes. Use your ChefAlarm to monitor the oil temps!
- Set the cheese out, wrapped, to come up close to room temp.
- Melt the butter for the gravy in a saucepan.
- Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until fragrant and softened.
- Add the flour and stir to make the roux.
- Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When the gravy has thickened somewhat, add the wine and stir to combine.
- Remove the gravy from heat.
- Heat the fry oil to 375°F (191°C), using your ChefAlarm to monitor the temp.
- As the oil heats, chop the brisket and prepare the platter for the poutine.
- When the oil comes to temp, fry the fries in batches until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per batch.
- Transfer each batch to a large bowl and season the fries with salt. Pile them all on the platter.
- scatter as much of the cheese curds over the fries as desired. Top with a layer of brisket point meat. Ladel on a couple scoops of gravy, and garnish with chopped chives.
- Eat it all, eat it now, eat it fast.
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