Fries, Dressing, and Gravy: A Newfoundland Speciality
If you’ve ever been to Newfoundland you’ve probably had someone tell you to try chips, gravy, and dressing. And I bet you were confused. Chips? Like…Lays? Dressing? Like…ranch? Nope and nope.
It’s like that classic Canadian dish, poutine…but not. In this one case we sometimes call fries ‘chips’. So there’s your potato base. Then you just have to replace the cheese curds with dressing, or what you might call stuffing. In Newfoundland, dressing is the breadcrumb concoction used to stuff turkeys. It’s a simple mixture of fresh breadcrumbs (not something dried like panko), melted butter, onion and summer savoury. This last part is important. Do not use sage. I repeat: do not use sage. Mount Scio Farms if my preferred savoury.
In the name of research I went to Ches’s Fish & Chips (my favourite spot, Leo’s, was closed) to photograph the dish I would miss most if I were to leave St. John’s. Here, they put the dressing on the bottom then layer fries and gravy. I prefer a fry, dressing, gravy layering personally. I like to get a mix of all three with each bite so I mixed it up and made an unholy mess. It tastes better that way, I swear. It’s not the prettiest dish but the richness of gravy and the herb-iness of the dressing mixing with a good homemade french fry make it one of the staples of Newfoundland take out.
You won’t have to go out of your way to try this dish either. Every greasy spoon, chip truck, and stadium canteen will serve it. Comedian Mark Critch jokes that there are only three ways to die in Newfoundland: heart attack, stroke, chip fat fire. Fries, dressing, and gravy gives you a shot at any one of those and it’s worth the risk.
My recommendation: add a piece of fish and a pineapple Crush (another Newfoundland specialty). If you want to get all wild and crazy, add green peas to the mess. It’s also worth noting that here ‘fish’ will always mean cod. If we’re talking about another type, we’ll call it by name.