According to Wikipedia, “The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as ‘the discipline in which the engineering, biological, and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public’.”
Me? I’m just using the term because I like the sound of it when I put together unusual combinations and ideas in the kitchen. Or, in this case, a restaurant.
For this first-ever edition of “PMO Food Science,” my wife and I took a trip down to our local South St. Burger Company restaurant to put together a little favorite of mine that I came up with not too long ago. I call it “the South St. Poutine Burger.”
I’ll freely admit, the sound is kind of lousy in this video, so if you’re having trouble hearing it, just use it as a visual guide while I quickly talk you through this.
For the uninitiated: Poutine is a Canadian delicacy invented in Quebec which consists of french fries topped with cheese curds (think “chunks of white cheese”) before having hot gravy poured over them, melting the cheese into the fries’ many crevices for a treat that’s not only great in cold weather, but any time, really. In Canada, many establishments serve their own version of the dish, including such internationally-known fast food staples as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and KFC, who is said to have one of the best. My understanding is that even some places in the northeastern United States serve it as well.
There are also places which specialize in poutine, and one is New York Fries, which is sort of a somewhat scaled-down version of South St. Burger Company; that is, SSBC serves New York Fries dishes, but also things not available there, such as burgers. New York Fries happens to have my personal favorite gravy for poutine: a rich, dark brown beef-style gravy, which is why South St. is the ideal place for this — in my opinion, at least. In theory, this could work anywhere that serves burgers and poutine, but this particular combination isn’t runny, and the taste reminds me of some old ground steak and gravy dishes from down south.
Making the Poutine Burger is simple: First, order a plain burger with nothing on it (as poutine is an ever-evolving concept as a dish, other things can be added, but this is just the basic) and an order of poutine (I went large on both). For the poutine, however, make sure they give you the cheese curds and the gravy on the side — I lucked out, as they were accidentally making it the normal way, so I ended up with some extra cheese to go around. This comes in handy later.
After removing the top bun from the burger, add a nice layer of cheese curds to that top part of the bun — not the burger itself, as the bread is better at holding it in place so it doesn’t fall everywhere. From there, take your gravy and pour it over the cheese curd-topped bun nice and evenly. Be careful not to go too close to the edges, unless you just like it messy — or with a lot of gravy.
Now, take the rest of your burger and turn it upside down before placing it on top of the cheese-and-gravy-topped bun, then press it down. The heat from the burger and the gravy will help melt the cheese and settle everything in place nicely.
Voila! Your South St. Poutine Burger is complete! Enjoy!
If you weren’t too overzealous with applying your toppings, then you should also have enough left for a decent side of poutine as well. It may not be as thoroughly treated as just ordering it straight, but at least your nutritional intake should be about the same as with just a burger and a side of poutine — perhaps even less, since your burger has no other toppings! Plus, when you get past the gravy and cheese part, you can still add some of their in-store seasonings to the fries!
Incidentally, after conducting and recording my experiment (and “testing” it, of course), I asked the folks behind the counter if this was something they could make upon request. I was informed that they could indeed, and it would cost an extra dollar for the cheese and another for the gravy, on top of whatever the normal price of the burger you’re getting is. Whether they can pull it off is as-yet unknown, though in doing so, you might come up short on value for the money versus doing it yourself — I don’t know yet.
I’ll have to investigate another day — science never sleeps, after all.