Lenny Russo is the chef/proprietor of the award-winning Heartland Restaurant & Farm District Market in St. Paul.
"In November in St. Paul, cooking seasonally means working with storage crops, whole grains, dry beans, winter squash and preserved fruit, like dried cranberries, raisins and cherries. One of my favorite ingredients is soft wheat berries — they're locally grown at Natural Ways Mills here in Minnesota. I can use them as you would an arborio rice for a risotto or like a farro in a nutty stuffing studded with preserved cranberries. The stuffing goes great with game bird like duck or quail but works well with turkey, too — especially if you're cooking a wild turkey or a heritage breed, because it can stand up to some gamey-ness."
Serve with: "Buttermilk parsnip mashed potatoes. Parsnips are misunderstood by most people, so I like to combine them with more common things to get people to try them. Buttermilk is a natural byproduct of the dairy we buy from local farms, and its tart lactic quality balances the richness of the potatoes and complements the zing of the parsnip. It's a delicious twist on the standard Thanksgiving side, without being too out there."
Pro tip: "Everything tastes better cooked in duck fat — and it's better for you than butter because it's higher in beneficial unsaturated fats. If I need to bring a dish to dinner at someone else's house, I just take whatever potatoes I have in storage, season them with salt and pepper, and roast them in duck fat. That's it. Everyone who tries them wants to know what I did — and I say, 'I just cooked them.'"