Watch how to make the classic Canadian comfort food, plus new creative spins, from Southwestern to breakfast

Classic Canadian poutine is made with French fries, cheese curds, and a hefty pour of gravy, but these poutine recipes will transform the diner grub into a super-memorable dish. If you’re going tried and true, look for fresh, local curds–the fresher the better. As cheese curds age they lose their tight, chewy texture. You can also substitute kasseri, a salty cheese from Greece that has a similar texture to cheese curds. Large chunks of diced mozzarella can also hit the spot if need be. If you’re looking to lighten the dish up, you can roast your potatoes in the oven and skip the fryer, although you can’t beat the crunch and flavor of a good French fry. It will also be more difficult to get them crisp enough. This is one dish that’s likely best to embrace as it is. Top-notch poutines have crispy fries with soft interiors that can stand up to the thick brown gravy. While the Canadian specialty is worthy in its own right, a few additions can truly set it apart. Add shredded chicken, chives, pico de gallo, sour cream, and avocado to create poutine with a California twist and, dare we say, turn it into a whole meal. A hearty scoop of chili, shredded cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of green onions will transform your Northern fries into a Southwestern delight and add some extra protein. Who said poutine was just for cold nights, hockey games, and late night pub food? Top classic poutine with a fried egg and chopped bacon for a breakfast fit for champions. No matter what version you choose, pair your overflowing dish with a Canadian craft brew–or a mimosa if it suits you.

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