Your New Year's Resolution: Try This Beef Rib Poutine

By Bob McCarthy

Sometimes it can feel like the holiday season is an endurance sport. It kicks off on Thanksgiving then continues unabated for six solid weeks, finally culminating on New Year’s Day. After all those family dinners and festive gatherings, you’ve probably had your fill of button-down shirts and sit-down meals. You could use a break in the form of a laid back afternoon and a big plate of something warm and comforting. That something is Beef Rib Poutine.

In the final days of the year, we put a lot of thought into what to serve on New Year’s Eve (like, say, Pulled Pork Sweet Potato Bites), but not necessarily what we’ll have on New Year’s Day. That’s not surprising, given the tradition of New Year’s Eve parties. Meanwhile, New Year’s Day tends to be more of an afterthought, a lazy affair dedicated to recovering from the holidays.

After weeks of running here, there, and everywhere, New Year’s Day is the perfect excuse to curl up on the couch in your loosest clothes to watch football or Step Brothers and indulge in some rich and hearty comfort food—the kind that’s entirely inappropriate to serve guests at a party, but is the perfect remedy to your holiday hangover.

For my money, any discussion on indulgent comfort food begins and ends with poutine. Never heard of it? You’re not alone. I’d venture that 75% of the people reading this have never heard of poutine, and even fewer have had it. For those not in the know, poutine is a French-Canadian dish that consists of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It’s rich and salty and tangy, and the combination of crisp fries, warm gravy, and melty cheese curds is utterly fantastic. It’s the perfect food for when you’re having a beer or the day after you’ve had one too many.

In other words, it’s the ideal meal on New Year’s Day.

Here’s the thing: Unless you’re reading this from a Canadian postal code, you probably don’t have easy access to poutine. A native New Englander, I was introduced to it through proximity. Several years back, I started making regular hiking trips to the White Mountains, a fairly popular destination for Québecois. Tired, sweaty, and hungry after a long hike, I’d usually grab a beer and a bite at a pub, where I often encountered another Quebec native: poutine.

Gradually, poutine made its way deeper into New England and the restaurants serving it started amping up the recipe, making it even more indulgent by adding duck confit. If poutine was on a menu, I ordered it, no questions asked. I got it in Portland, Maine; I got it outside Fenway Park; I got it across from Plymouth Rock. I got it so often that I started to take it for granted.

Then I got married and relocated further down the 95 corridor. Suddenly, and unceremoniously, the poutine ran dry. Rather than embark on a search for a few enlightened eateries, I decided to make my own.

Making a simple poutine isn’t particularly difficult—it’s truly just fries, gravy, and cheese curds. But I was spoiled and had become accustomed to my poutine being loaded with duck confit. I’ve never made duck confit, or even cooked duck for that matter. Nor would I know where to buy duck if I wanted to learn how to make duck confit. I needed a replacement, a meat that was every bit as rich and tender and unctuous as rendered duck. The answer was BBQ Beef Ribs.

Rich and salty with a hint of smoke, Beef Ribs Poutine is every bit as decadent as you’d expect it to be. Since I smoke beef ribs somewhat regularly, I planned ahead and cooked extra so I’d have leftover meat. There’s also no reason you couldn’t use brisket or even pulled pork. So, go ahead, get in your sweats, dig into a pile of poutine and ease into the new year.

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