Thanksgiving 2020 will be unlike any in American history. We’ll have only a select few around the table, and no opportunity to go out to eat. You may be cooking-weary from making hundreds of meals at home for the last nine months. Are you dreading all the hours in the kitchen to make your Thanksgiving feast? There is a solution that could allow you to relax with your feet up instead. Restaurants around the country are scrambling to offer carry out options to treat their guests. Most will prepare a traditional Thanksgiving feast; others are also featuring unique twists for a special meal. In the alternative, you can also make your bird at home and order special side dishes that make it look like you’ve been cooking for three days.
I was captured when pursuing the unique Thanksgiving carry out menu from the iconic seafood restaurant Shaw’s Crab House (Chicago and Schaumburg.) Shaw’s began 2020 with plans to celebrate their 35th anniversary, but Covid put that on hold. Instead, Executive Partner Bill Neuruz says, “we’ve learned to celebrate the opportunity to be open everyday. That, in itself, is a celebration.”
For the last decade, Shaw’s has offered an over-the-top buffet, serving over 1000 people on Thanksgiving. Executive Chef Arnulfo Tellez and his team brainstormed for a way to provide the opulence of the buffet in the safest way. A four-course carry out dinner with 16 different items is their answer to continuing to be part of their diners’ family celebrations. Delectable turkey is accompanied by Shaw’s signature Alaskan King Crab. There are four seafood appetizers to choose from including mussels and lobster bisque. The traditional turkey is accompanied by brioche stuffing, sweet corn casserole and more. Along with your third course of King Crab, enjoy mashed sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallow topping and roasted brussel sprouts with Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. You can also add other delicacies like crab cakes and lobster mac and cheese.
Chef Tellez says his personal favorite is their pumpkin pie. Pumpkins are sourced from Tom’s Farm in Huntley, Illinois. At Shaw's, they are roasted whole and served with a praline caramel sauce. For the non-traditional dessert fans, there is triple layer chocolate cake, raspberry and key lime pie and a cookie plate.
Starting as a dishwasher at Ed Debevic’s, Chef Tellez worked his way up the culinary ladder. From line cook to Sou Chef, he reached the position of Executive Chef at Vong’s Thai Kitchen. In 2008, he was named Executive Chef at Shaw’s Crab House. He creates new dishes and oversees preparation of the freshest seasonal seafood. “During this time of year, we serve one of the highest quality scallops in the world out of Nantucket. They are from a single-family operation, Nantucket Seafood, that we have worked with for many years,” says Tellez.
With the Thanksgiving feast, you don’t even need to think about what beverages to serve. You can start your meal with a cocktail using Shaw’s Manhattan kit. Selecting wine to pair with your meal is easy, too. Sommelier Kat Hawkins recommends American Chardonnays with moderate oak treatment such as Lioco or Littorai from California or Willamette Valley. If you prefer red wine, she suggests a Pinot Noir from Archery Summit or Colene Clemens. “If you want to try something different with your feast, I’d recommend the Trousseau from Eyrie Vineyards in Willamette Valley as an alternative light-bodied red or the Barboursville Viognier as an alternative medium-bodied white from Virginia,” says Hawkins. Their extensive wine list totals 183.
If you choose carry out this year, you will not only have a more relaxing Thanksgiving, but will be supporting your local restaurants during this difficult time. That’s a double blessing.