Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.
Dinner 1: Crispy Pan-Fried Pork Chops and Broiled Broccoli Rabe
Game Plan: For this pairing, start by breading the pork chops (through step 2). As the chops sit, prepare the broccoli rabe through step 2. Once the second batch of chops is done cooking, start broiling the broccoli rabe, keeping a close eye on it as it cooks. The pork recipe calls for keeping the first batch of chops warm in a low oven, but since the oven will be in use broiling the broccoli rabe, try keeping them warm in a toaster oven.
Using boneless center-cut loin chops keeps our Crispy Pan-Fried Pork Chops recipe fast and easy. We lightly scoring the chops and then dredge them in cornstarch to create an ultra-crisp sheath that stays strongly adhered to the chops. Crushed cornflakes add a crisp, craggy exterior, and mustard and minced garlic perk up the coating. For our Broiled Broccoli Rabe, we use the intense heat of the broiler to create deep caramelization without overcooking the vegetable. Because most of broccoli rabe’s bitterness comes from an enzymatic reaction triggered when the florets are cut, we keep the leafy parts whole and cut the stalks into large pieces.
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Dinner 2: Glazed Salmon and Sautéed Spinach
For our Glazed Salmon, we lightly sprinkle the exterior of the fillets with cornstarch, brown sugar, and salt before cooking. This mixture gives the glaze a sticky, rough surface to adhere to. To balance the rich salmon, our glazes combine intensely savory, sweet, and tart ingredients. Our Sautéed Spinach starts with flat-leaf spinach. To keep the dish from becoming watery, we wilt the spinach and then squeeze it in a colander to get rid of excess moisture. We then finish it with a squeeze of lemon juice and some grated lemon zest, as well as a pinch of red pepper flakes.
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Dinner 3: Oven-Steamed Mussels and Herbed Garlic Bread
Game Plan: Both recipes call for a 500-degree oven. To accommodate a roasting pan on the lower rack, you may need to raise the rack for the garlic bread to the upper-middle position. Prepare the mussels and make the garlic butter while the oven heats. Cook the mussels for 10 minutes and then put the bread in the oven. This way, you can finish the mussels (step 2) while the bread toasts. Instead of parsley, try garnishing the mussels with the herbs that are in the garlic bread: I suggest 1 tablespoon each of chives and basil, plus 1 teaspoon of oregano.
Cooking enough mussels to serve 4 on the stovetop often leads to inconsistently cooked or overcooked shellfish. To ensure perfection, we move our mussels to the gentle, enveloping heat of the oven in a large roasting pan so they aren’t too crowded. We pair the Oven-Steamed Mussels with Herbed Garlic Bread that's great for sopping up the mussels’ flavorful broth. We start by toasting a generous amount of whole garlic cloves to mellow any harshness and highlight their rich, sweet, nutty flavor. Then, we add a small amount of cheese and four different herbs for depth and complexity.