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White Cheddar poutine

White Cheddar Poutine with Tempura Peppers and Piloncillo-Harissa Sauce

From: Chef Ricardo Pineda, Nana, Chicago. Yield: 8 servings.

1 cup piloncillo* or dark brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp. harissa paste
¼ cup butter
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 cups flour
1½ cups cornstarch, divided
2¼ to 2½ cups beer
as needed for frying, vegetable oil
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, cut in French fry strips
2 poblano, banana or other spicy peppers, seeded, cut into ¾” pieces
16 white cheddar cheese curds

In a medium saucepan, combine piloncillo, harissa paste, butter and cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until heated and sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 1 cup cornstarch and 2¼ cups beer. If necessary, add enough beer to make a slightly thin batter. 

Heat 3 to 4 inches of oil to 375°F in a deep saucepot or deep fryer. Fry potatoes until deep golden brown and tender. Drain; keep warm. 

Toss pepper pieces in some of the remaining cornstarch, then in batter. Shake off excess. In batches, fry peppers until batter is crisp and light golden brown and peppers are tender. Drain; keep warm.

Toss cheese curds in remaining cornstarch and batter. In batches, fry cheese curds until batter is light golden brown and crisp. Drain.

To plate: Place French fries on bottom of platter. Top with peppers and cheese curds. Pour some of the piloncillo-harissa sauce over the top. Pass remaining sauce.     

*Piloncillo is Mexican unrefined sugar shaped into cones. It has a very hard texture and is grated or chopped with a serrated knife.

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