A little while ago, I learned that Trader Joe's sells poutine in their freezer section. I was somewhat skeptical about the product, but it got a favourable reaction from the website I saw it on, and from one of my friends that tried it out. On a recent trip out to the Trader Joe's around here, Connie picked up a package, and we tried it out this evening.
Disclaimer: I grew up in Western Canada, and as far as I knew at the time, poutine was never a thing in Edmonton. I'd heard of it, but never saw it anywhere. Fries and gravy was easy to find (and was a lunch time staple during high school), but not poutine. I have very little experience with poutine.
Trader Joe's poutine is a bag of frozen french fries, a pouch of cheese curds, and a pouch of gravy (they call it beef sauce).
The instructions are pretty simple. Bake the fries at 425°F (about 220°C) for 20-25 minutes, and put the pouches of curds and gravy into a pot of just barely simmering water to thaw them out. You'll want to keep an eye on the pouches, especially the cheese curds. If you leave them in the water too long, or let the water get too hot, you end up with a mass of molten cheese rather than individual curds. My pouch of curds ended up a bit on the melty side, but the individual curds were still mostly separable.
When the fries are baked golden brown and delicious, put them all on a plate, cut open the pouch of curds, and sprinkle them over the fries.
Cut open the pouch of gravy (not sauce) and spread over the fries and curds (careful not to burn yourself).
Serve right away while everything is still hot.
I dug in and was pleasantly surprised. The gravy, although thinner than I prefer, was actually pretty tasty and sort of reminded me of the fries and gravy I used to eat for lunch at the mall. The curds were pretty good, squeaky as they should be. The package is easily enough to serve 3-4 people, although one hungry person wouldn't have a problem finishing the whole thing off.
I don't know if I really get the whole poutine thing, but that's probably because I never grew up with it. I can't say how good Trader Joe's poutine is compared to any other poutine, but I'd totally buy another package just to do fries and gravy with. As fries and gravy, Trader Joe's has a pretty decent product here. I might reduce the gravy down a little bit, or do something else to thicken it up a little more, but otherwise it's pretty good.