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: Quick Chicken Fricassee with Boiled Potatoes
Game Plan: Start by browning the chicken. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes. If your potatoes are small, they may be tender before the chicken is done. In that case, return them to the Dutch oven and cover them to keep warm while the chicken finishes.
To make our Chicken Fricassee weeknight friendly, we use quick-cooking boneless, skinless chicken parts. We brown the chicken, then set it aside while we make a rich sauce by cooking onions and glutamate-rich mushrooms until they develop a savory fond, then pouring in chicken broth and white wine. A final addition of sour cream mixed with egg yolk thickens the sauce and makes it incredibly silky. We pair the chicken with a simple dish of Boiled Potatoes with Butter and Chives . We like to cook whole potatoes that are less than 2½ inches in diameter since larger spuds tend to get mushy right under the skin by the time the center is cooked. We boil the potatoes skin-on in well-salted water to highlight their earthy taste.
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Dinner 2: Stir-Fried Shrimp and Broccoli and Restaurant-Style Rice
Game Plan: Start by tossing the shrimp with the salt and sugar. While the shrimp sits, complete the rest of the prep for the stir-fry and mix the sauce ingredients (step 2). Once the ingredients for the stir-fry are in place, start cooking the rice. As soon as the heat under the rice is reduced and the pan is covered, start cooking the stir-fry.
We start our Stir-Fried Shrimp and Broccoli by tossing the shrimp with a little salt and sugar and letting them sit for 30 minutes. This not only seasons the shrimp but also helps them retain moisture during cooking. Then, rather than stir-fry the shrimp in a hot skillet as most recipes call for, we add the sauce to the pan and poach the shrimp gently in the liquid, covered, to ensure that they stay moist. We serve the stir-fry with our Chinese Restaurant-Style Rice, which is soft enough to soak up savory sauces, yet sticky enough to pick up with chopsticks. We found that rinsing the grains removes some of their surface starch and that starting them in boiling water provides enough agitation to release the remaining starch, resulting in just the right amount of stickiness.
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Dinner 3: Garlicky Spaghetti with Lemon and Kale Caesar Salad
Game Plan: Start by giving the kale leaves a 10-minute soak in warm water (step 1). Meanwhile, prepare the dressing and start cooking the croutons (steps 2 and 3). Once the kale is dried and dressed, set it aside while preparing the spaghetti. For the spaghetti, toast the garlic while the pasta water is coming to a boil.
The key to our Garlicky Spaghetti with Lemon and Pine Nuts is to make the most of the garlic. We toast 2 tablespoons of minced garlic over low heat in ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil to ensure that it cooks to a pale golden brown (any darker and its flavor becomes bitter and harsh). We then add 1/2 teaspoon of raw minced garlic near the end of cooking to take advantage of garlic’s dual personality—buttery sweet when toasted and fiery when raw. For the Kale Caesar Salad, we give the leaves a 10-minute soak in warm water, which slightly breaks down the fibrous cell walls and helps to tenderize the chewy green. A 20-minute rest after tossing the kale with dressing further softens the greens and helps the flavors blend.