Shawn McClain serves some form of these savory cream puffs with drinks at both of his Chicago restaurants. He pokes a hole in the sides of the puffs when they come out of the oven to release the steam, then fills them with a creamy mixture of blue cheese and mascarpone.
When Shawn McClain makes it, Alaskan halibut is the star of this dish, served with labor-intensive lobster dumplings and topped with a warm tomato-water vinaigrette. We use local halibut from the fishmonger and omit the lobster dumplings. Instead of making tomato water, we coarsely chop heirloom tomatoes for a fresh, chunky tomato vinaigrette.
This salad epitomizes fall flavors, with its chunks of butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, pecans and greens. The easiest way to peel the butternut squash is with a sturdy U-peeler (named for its wide, U-shaped handle), which is available at most supermarkets.
"I wasn't always a briner," says Shawn McClain, "but when enough people tell you it's the thing to do, you try it." He's glad he did: The brine here, which is a simple combination of salt, sugar, spices and water, keeps the turkey moist in the oven and seasons the meat perfectly.
Instead of apple pie, Shawn McClain ends his Thanksgivings with this stunning tarte Tatin. Because the recipe calls for store-bought puff pastry (McClain is a huge fan of Dufour's), it's quite easy to prepare.