Cooking with Pete and Barb Marczyk: Cheese curds with fries and brown gravy

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Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They often bring some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them, and cook up a feast.

The Super Bowl is just over a week away, and you know what that means: party! Your food display will likely be a spread of chips and dips, wieners and burgers, beer and more beer, but the Marczyks have another idea: poutine -- the French-Canadian catchall of fries, cheese curds and gravy. "At the Marczyk household, it's usually Paul, Pete's brother, who hosts the Super Bowl party (if the Pats are in it), but this year, without any team to cheer for, we've decided to pledge our allegiance to the team that represents better food, and the Green Bay Packers win because of cheese curds," says Barb, who recommends using Vern's Wisconsin cheese curds and Alexia-brand Yukon Gold potato fries, both of which are available at Marczyk's.

"Cheese curds are not like other cheese," notes Barb. "They're actually a byproduct of the cheese-making process, and due to the extra air in them, they squeak when you bite them." The recipe that follows is basic, and Barb says that you can tweak it to make it your own. "You can use turkey gravy, add barbecue sauce or browned sausage to the gravy and sprinkle it with hot sauce. Just have fun with it, and make sure you have plenty of beer on hand."

Cheese curds with fries and brown gravy

Ingredients

1 bag Vern's Wisconsin cheese curds, crumbled
1 bag Yukon Gold fries, baked according to directions (The Marczyks recommend using Alexia-brand fries)

For the gravy

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup ketchup
1 quart beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste (Be sure to check the salt content of whatever broth you use, and taste before you add any extra salt.)

Directions

1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium high heat.
2. Add the flour and whisk continuously until the mixture turns slightly brown, making a roux.
3. Whisk in the ketchup and beef broth. If it's lumpy, strain it, but do not use a blender to smooth it.
4. Turn the heat down, continuing to whisk until it bubbles.
5. Put hot fries on a plate, sprinkle with cheese curds, and pour gravy over the top.

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For more from Pete, Barbara and Marczyk Fine Foods, visit the market website. And be sure to check out Pete's blog.

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