Iceberg Harvesters and Thanksgiving

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John "Doc" Willoughby, editor of Gourmet magazine, talks about iceberg harvesters and shares some Thanksgiving recipes. Gourmet's special Thanksgiving issue is on newsstands now.

Corn-Bread and Chorizo Stuffing
Serves 8
Active time: 20 min   Start to finish: 2 1/4 hr

What started as an arepa recipe evolved into a play on traditional American corn-bread stuffing. Chorizo takes the place of fresh sausage, and garlic adds punch to a buttery base. Imagine all of the classic textures with Latino flavors - it's that good.

Skillet corn bread
1/4 lb Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage), casing removed and sausage chopped
2  Tablespoons vegetable oil
2  medium onions, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
4  celery ribs, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
2  Tablespoons chopped garlic
1  tsp dried oregano
1  cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1  large egg

Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Butter a  shallow 3-quart baking dish.

Crumble corn bread into 1/2-inch pieces, spreading out in 1 layer in 2 large  4-sided sheet pans. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dry, about 20 minutes. Cool completely and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook chorizo in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onions, celery, garlic, oregano, and 1 1/4 tsp salt and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add to corn bread.

Whisk together broth and egg, then pour over stuffing and toss well. Transfer to baking dish and cover tightly with buttered foil. Bake in upper third of oven 1 hour. Remove foil and bake until top is golden, about 15 minutes more.

Cooks’ notes:  Stuffing, without broth mixture, can be prepared 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Toss with broth and egg before baking.

Skillet Corn Bread
Serves 8
Active time:10 min  Start to finish:30 min

Corn bread made from scratch is the secret to a corn-bread stuffing, especially when the bread is this delicious. As moist as cake beneath its golden crust, this crumbly treat is also wonderful on its own.

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
1 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups cups well-shaken buttermilk (do not use powdered)
1/2 stick unsalted butter

Special Equipment: a well-seasoned 10-inch skillet

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Heat skillet in oven 10 minutes.

Meanwhile stir together dry ingredients in small bowl. Whisk together eggs and buttermilk in a medium bowl.

Remove hot skillet from oven (handle will be very hot) and add butter, swirling skillet to coat bottom and side (butter may brown). Whisk hot butter into buttermilk mixture and return skillet to oven. Stir cornmeal mixture into buttermilk mixture just until evenly moistened but still lumpy.

Scrape batter into hot skillet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn out onto a rack and cool.

Cooks' note: Corn bread for stuffing can be baked two days ahead and kept in a sealable bag at room temperature.

Poblano Potato Gratin
Serves 8 (side dish)
Active time: 45 min   Start to finish: 2 ½ hr

In Mexican cuisine, rajas refers to thin strips of roasted chiles. Although they commonly spice up everything from stews to tamales, rajas are best when adding a kick to creamy dishes. Here, forest-green poblanos lend a mild, almost fruity heat to a potato gratin.

1 1/2 lb fresh poblano chiles (about 5)
1  lb onions, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
1  Tablespoon vegetable oil
3  lb large Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4  cup whole milk

Equipment:  an adjustable-blade slicer

Roast chiles and make rajas: Lay chiles on a gas burner over high heat or in a broiler, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl and let stand, covered tightly, 10 minutes.

When are cool enough to handle, peel or rub off the skin, slit chiles lengthwise. Stem, seed and de-vein. Cut lengthwise into thin strips.

Cook onions with 1 teaspoon salt in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in chiles and remove rajas from heat. Reserve  1/2 cup rajas for topping.

Make gratin:  Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 3-qt shallow baking dish.

Peel potatoes and cut crosswise into 1/16-inch-thick slices with slicer. Transfer to a small heavy pot. Add cream, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally (liquid will thicken). Stir in rajas, and pour mixture evenly into baking dish. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup rajas on top.

Bake until potatoes are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Cook's Note: Rajas can be made 3 days ahead and chilled; gratin can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature and reheat, covered, in a 350°F oven (about 30 minutes).

Roasted Potatoes and Shallots
Serves 6
Active time: 15 min   Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr

Yukon Golds go creamy and crusty at the same time when roasted with caramelized shallots. Although salt and pepper are all this dish needs, a spoonful of gravy on top is certainly welcome.

6  large shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
3  Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lb medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in lowest position.

Toss shallots with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 13- by 9-inch baking pan, spreading evenly.

Roast, stirring occasionally, until shallots are golden, about 30 minutes.

Toss potatoes with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then add to shallots.

Roast, turning occasionally, until vegetables are tender and potatoes are crusty, 40 to 
50 minutes.

Cook's note:  Shallots (but not potatoes) can be roasted (for 30 minutes only) one day ahead and chilled.

Music break: The Way I Do by T.H. White