Since the Thanksgiving trauma of soon-to-be six years ago, I have been looking for ways to get myself through the month of November. The month itself feels less threatening as compared to past years, but the day itself has the potential for unspeakable sorrow. Thankfully I have found the best possible antidote in sharing the day with my other half Josie and her wonderful family who has also become mine. Our visits together are already about as fun as they can be with nearly constant good food, plenty of drinks, late night giggles, and general hilarity, but sharing this holiday allows us to live out our mutual yearning for unique spins on more traditional Thanksgiving foods together.

Last year, we chose a Mexican theme for our meal. Think turkey tacos with pumpkin tortillas, pineapple margaritas, poblano mac and cheese, spicy Brussels sprouts, and even more delicious dishes including this sweet potato spoonbread with smoked gouda and roasted poblano. As someone who is generally iffy about sweet potatoes and spoonbread, I was shocked by how much I ended up loving this dish. It is sweet, spicy, and smoky all at once. I found myself coming back to this dish and loving it even more as leftovers. I made a mental note to share it with you when the season came around again because it really is not to be missed!

Since this dish is so delicious rewarmed and since oven space is at a premium on Thanksgiving day, I recommend baking this ahead of time, perhaps the day before, and then rewarming it just before you are ready to eat. It may not be quite as puffy as when baked the first time through, but it will still be every bit as tasty. As written, the dish has a decent kick to it so you may consider halving the amount of poblano if you are sensitive to spice.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3-4 poblano peppers
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tbsp. (43 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¾ cup (99 grams) cornmeal
  • 4 tbsp. (57 grams) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup (71 grams) grated smoked Gouda

Directions

  • 01

    Heat the oven to 375˚ F. Place the sweet potato on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, until easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven, split in half, and let cool. Scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor, discarding the peel, and puree until smooth. You should have about 1½ cups puree.

  • 02

    Heat the broiler with an oven rack 6 inches from the heating element. Place the poblanos on a foil lined baking sheet or in a metal baking dish. Place under the broiler and cook, turning as needed, until the skins are blackened and blistered on all sides. Remove from the oven, transfer to a medium bowl, and cover. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, peel away the skins and discard. Seed the peppers, then coarsely chop. You should have 2/3 cup chopped roasted peppers.

  • 03

    Butter a 2-quart baking dish with straight sides (or multiple smaller dishes). In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Warm at medium heat until bubbles form around the edges. Very gradually whisk in the cornmeal the mixture thickens and coats the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.

  • 04

    In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and the heavy cream. Whisk until the yolks are fully incorporated and the mixture is pale yellow.

  • 05

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites first on medium-low speed and then increasing the speed as the whites start to foam. Continue to whip on high speed until soft peaks form.

  • 06

    When the cornmeal mixture has cooled for at least 5 minutes, whisk 1/3 of it into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk in the remainder of the cornmeal mixture. With a spatula, stir in the gouda, chopped poblano, and sweet potato puree. Gently fold in half of the whipped egg whites. When no streaks remain, fold in the remaining egg whites.

  • 07

    Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, until puffed up, set on the surface but slightly jiggly when given a shake. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

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