5 Ultimate Canadian comfort foods
Covering up from head to toe to stay warm fends off the chill on the outside. But for the ultimate warm-up, dive into some of Canada’s favourite winter comfort foods. To make it on to this list, including being delicious, there were a few additional elements considered to make them stand out as winter classics.
For starters, the dish must use ingredients that are easy to improvise or substitute. When faced with sub-zero temperatures, snowstorms and lockdowns, a quick trip to the store may not be possible. Being able to swap out ingredients if necessary was a must. A touch of imagination and dash of creativity can bring a new twist on these classics.
Next, the dishes had to be shareable. Showcase your culinary skills – be ready for a family-style meal, a houseful of little ones, or just a delicious meal for everyone to share. Be sure to have some extra blankets in case the weather turns!
With darker mornings and evenings, everybody can lose track of what time it is. The final factor to make this list was versatility. These dishes are easy to serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a few tweaks.
Pancakes are a staple in any Canadian pantry. Usually, they’re stacked and served with melted butter and maple syrup. Substitute cream for milk, replace syrup with jams and honey. Add some berries, fruit or throw in some chocolate chips to add that extra special something. For lunch or dinner, thin the batter to achieve a crepe style and roll up with cheese, meats and vegetables.
Got a late start preparing for a special occasion or need to whip up dessert? Try our version of a layered pancake cake.
Grilled cheese & tomato soup
For the ultimate diner duo, the Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup classic combo takes the top spot. The delicious duo can easily scale to serve a few friends or a big family. Experiment with different types of bread and cheeses to mix it up. Add bacon or tomatoes for some extra flavour. Chop the grilled cheese into triangles or strips for little hands to manage. Pour some steaming tomato soup into a bowl or cup and top with some parmesan cheese, left-over shredded cheese and a basil garnish for the more mature crowd and you are ready to serve.
A long-standing Canadian tradition, most people are familiar with all the different ways poutine can be interpreted. For breakfast, add eggs, ham and hollandaise. For lunch or dinner, top with pulled pork or sautéed mushrooms and vegetables. As Duncan Holmes demonstrates in his article, let your imagination run wild. Just as long as you top it off with lots of cheese and gravy!
What better way to warm-up than over meat and pastry hot out of the oven. Tourtière is French for meat pie and boasts several advantages. Prepare it in advance and store it in the fridge or freezer ready to heat up in a hurry. Easy to transport, these pies are great to bring a friend’s place or deliver to a house-bound neighbour. A tourtière can be part of a larger meal with the addition of asparagus, salad or mashed potatoes. On other nights, a slice will suffice.
No winter comfort food list would be complete without a nod to chili. Make a large batch on a Sunday afternoon. Keep the rest for a quick lunch or easy delicious dinner during the workweek. There are many different takes on what makes a good chili. A “Texas Chili” refers to one without beans. Be sure to confirm with the chef if the “hot” chili is referring to temperature or the addition of hot peppers! Some people take great pride in their chili and will slave all day over their secret recipes. Fortunately, not all chili requires such laborious preparation. Here is Tom DeLarzac’s delicious “Shortcut Chili” recipe that gets all the flavour in half the time. Add a dollop of sour cream and a slice of sourdough to complete the dish.
Whomever you are hunkering down with this winter, these dishes will be sure to keep you warm and satiated until the clock springs forward.