Eating with family

Family traditions are wrapped up in food, aren’t they? Most holidays have a food association with them. In most families anyway.

“it wouldn’t be Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter/my birthday without [fill in the blank with your favorite food]”.

My family is French. Acadian, actually. My relatives hail from Moncton, New Brunswick.

In a quick email conversation with Li, we had a discussion about poutines. To most of the world, poutines are french fries with cheese curds, smothered in gravy. To me (and I guess a smaller portion of Canada), poutines are a potato ball stuffed with pork and boiled. Sounds appealing, right? Depends on your upbringing I suppose because I can find a dozen people right this minute who will be drooling in 10 seconds flat at the word “poutines”. (We always said it as a plural) (and “OUR” pronunciation of it is POO=TZINS)

So, anyway, I promised I would write out my families recipe for Li but being a blogger (YES! I still am a blogger) I thought I’d squeak an entry out of it.

Poutines were made only for special occasions. They are very labor intensive but just the aroma of one sets my mouth to watering.  Using google as my guide, it is known on the internets as Poutine râpée, which is not what we called it at all. In fact, rapee is a different dish altogether. Rapee is a casserole while poutines are the round ball.

So, I share my family recipe here. I have never personally made them but am planning to this Christmas. This will my present to my family. (MY family, my husband and kids will not eat them. I’ve somehow failed as a mom!! 🙂


As a rule, it takes 1 pound of potatoes for 1 poutine. This recipe is for 30 poutines. Believe me, if you (Read: I) are going to make them, may as well go for it and make them for everyone! They freeze well, but Acadian relatives and friends will gobble them up now.

30 pounds of potatoes

2 pounds ground pork

1 pound salt pork

Peel and cut the potatoes then divide them into thirds. Cook 1/3  boiling water for 20 minutes until soft.  Mash these.

Grate the remaining potatoes to a watery pulp. (This is not the big holes on a grater, it is the smallest holes. I am trying to figure out an electric way to do this. Grating that many potatoes on those small holes gets old fast. Not to mention the bruised knuckles. Any ideas?) .

Place the pulp in a pillowcase or wrap in kitchen towels. Squeeze out as much water as you can.

Mix the pulp with the mashed potatoes, in equal amounts

Mix salt pork and ground pork together

Fill one cup wtih potato mixture, then form round ball like a snowball. Press a hole into the ball with your thumb and stuff about a tablespoon of pork filling inside, sealing the hole when done.

Cut cheesecloth into 10 inch squares. Wrap each poutine in cheesecloth, knotting the corners.

Cook in boiling water for 2 hours.

I love to eat mine with a sprinkling of sugar, my mother eats her with applesauce, others just with salt and pepper.


15 pounds of potatoes

3 pounds ground pork

1 pound salt pork

3 eggs

1 sleeve crushed saltines

1 tsp baking powder

Grate potatoes to a pulp but do not squeeze the water out this time.

Mix all ingredients together well.

Place 1 tablespoon shortening in bottom of pan (big roasting pan or 2 lasagna type pans). Heat in oven until melted. Pour mixture into hot pan

Bake in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour then turn oven to 350 adn continue baking for 1 hour 15 minutes for a total baking time of 2 hours. Top will be dark, golden brown when done.

There you have it. Owning a potato farm would be ideal!

Have you eaten poutines before? Would you eat them? Would you, could you, in a house? With a mouse? In a box?

What are your family food traditions?

P.S. Remember! No one ever claimed this is health food. That is why it is special occasion food. I, personally have not had poutines in years now. It’s time to fix that!


Filed under life, Sandy's Cooking

14 responses to “Eating with family

  1. the prep sounds alot like how we start potato lefse: I use a ricer and have ‘softened’ the potatoes… by soaking them in water.

    Then put the pulp in the cheesecloth and squeeze. This is a grandchild job!

  2. We don’t eat 45 pounds of potatoes in a year and we live in Canada 🙂 I’m going to try a scaled down version. I grate my potatoes in the food processor. Thanks, Sandy!

  3. Geri

    Wow! And I thought pierogis were labor intensive! That’s our family tradition for Christmas and Easter. Thanksgiving is American. Within my immediate family it’s Chocolate pie. My daughters consider this a must have dessert at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  4. I’ll try them but making them? That sounds like way too much work!

  5. I would eat poutines! (You had me at “potatoes”!) Yum.

    I have a large-ish Mouli with interchangeable disks — I use it for slicing my potatoes thinly and evenly for scalloped potatoes — I’d use the little-hole disk to make potato pulp!

    Have I mentioned, YUM??? ; )

  6. YUM!!! Thank you for sharing this. I’ve never heard of them but I’m going to make them. And I don’t see any reason why these are unhealthy. They have real ingredients in them – meat and potato. Sounds like my kind of food!

  7. I have never eaten anything remotely like this despite having grown up in an area of Louisiana called Acadiana. Apparently the food did not follow the Cajuns south. BTW, if you have a kitchen aid mixer there is an attachment that will shred (one with large hole, one medium and one with tiny ones). The mondo kitchen aid food processor has one as well but I don’t think it’s as fine. It would also mean emptying the bowl many times but with the mixer you can fit lots more in that bowl. Sounds delicious!

    I don’t think we really have a main dish kind of family tradition though my great grandmother’s on both sides were candy makers and I carry on that tradition every year at xmas.

  8. Beebs

    These sound really good! But they do bring new meaning to “labor intensive”, don’t they? Our Italian family traditions are: Pizzelles, flavored with anise oil. And i make a gazillion of them, see-thru thin and crispy, each year. And then there are potato gnocchi which my mother made every Easter, but my cousins now make for Christmas Eve dinner. Made properly they are tender, light and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I make them very rarely, (don’t really know why…) but I put in some Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Oh yum!

  9. My mother’s side tradition is lutefisk and lefse at Christmas supplemented by venison meatballs. I have yet to consume any lutefisk. 😀

    I hope to try a poutine sometime!

  10. Tee

    That sounds an awful lot like what Norwegians call potetklub, and Germans call knoedeln. Roughly.

    Our family holiday tradition is lefse, although sadly, I don’t make it, I buy it.

  11. tish

    My husband’s father’s family is also Acadian. Their tradition (which my Irish MIL adopted) is Pork Pie for Christmas Eve dinner and French Dressing (steamed beef and pork mixed with mashed potatoes and a generous helping of ground cloves- a bit of an acquired taste but it smells Heavenly!) with the turkey the next day. In our house we always have corned beef and cabbage or Bubble and Squeek for St Pat’s Day (my Irish mom also added Grasshopper Pie for dessert). My dad is Italian, My husband’s dad is Acadian/French and we both have Irish moms so there are a lot of family dishes from all three cultures that are in the family cookbook.

  12. I haven’t tried poutines (either form), but I would – I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like…

  13. Gisele

    I live in Massachusetts too. I know some of the relatives in New Brunswick have put together some type of electric grater that does all the work. I’m going to ask this for a Christmas present this year. Just finished making rapee for the family for Columbus day/Canadian Thanksgiving, I have the knuckles to prove it. Our recipe is fairly similar except we only put in the salt pork, no ground pork. My big question is… what do you put on the rapee. My Dad used to put brown sugar, in my Mother’s family… white sugar. I have an uncle that likes it with molasses, another one with vinegar. I partial to ketchup myself.

  14. rebecca

    I just wanted to thank you for publishing your recipes for poutines and rapee. They are very close to how I remember my family made them back in the day. What I consider to be the ‘true’ Acadian versions of these recipes were so hard to find on the internet! Maybe it’s a regional Moncton thing, my family is from Shediac and Bouctouche, we now live in Mass too! Thanks again… I can’t wait to make these for my boyfriend!