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: Skillet-Roasted Chicken in Lemon Sauce and Sautéed Peas
Game Plan: Prepare the chicken through step 4. While the chicken cooks, prep all of the ingredients for the peas. As the chicken rests for 5 minutes, make the peas. When the peas are done, finish the chicken.
Inspired by the lemon chicken served at Rao’s restaurant in New York, our Skillet-Roasted Chicken in Lemon Sauce starts with chicken parts that we brown in a skillet and then braise in a lemon-juice-and-chicken-broth-based sauce. A mere 1/4 cup of lemon juice gives the sauce just the right degree of brightness, and a touch of lemon zest adds more citrus flavor without extra acidity. Sautéed Peas start with frozen peas, which we often find to be sweeter and fresher tasting than fresh peas. We enliven the peas with ¼ cup of minced mint.
The Best Instant-Read ThermometersWe've recommended a Thermapen for more than a decade, but there's new competition. Is it still the best digital food thermometer?
Dinner 2: Cheesy Nachos with Spicy Beef and Breaded Chicken Fingers
Game Plan: Prep and cook all of the components for the nachos and assemble them in the baking dish, but wait to bake them. Next, prep the chicken and bread it. As you pan-fry the chicken, place the nachos in the oven to bake. Use a toaster oven (if you have one) to keep the first batch of chicken warm.
Here's a Superbowl-ready pairing that can be on the coffee table in less than an hour. To ensure that the tortilla chips in our Cheesy Nachos with Spicy Beef are cheesy and spicy, we layer them with a full pound of shredded cheddar cheese and sliced jalapeños. In addition to quick homemade salsa and guacamole, we top the nachos with a quick-to-make spiced ground beef mixture to make them more substantial. For from-scratch Breaded Chicken Fingers, we use 6-ounce breasts and cut them on the diagonal into ¾-inch strips to yield the most consistently sized pieces. Japanese panko bread crumbs generate a crust with a toasty, wheaty flavor and shatteringly crisp texture.
Broiler-Safe 13 by 9-Inch Baking DishesSince our favorite 13 by 9-inch Pyrex dish can’t go under the broiler, we looked for one that could.
Dinner 3: Indian-Style Vegetable Curry and Basmati Rice Pilaf
Game Plan: Prep all the ingredients for both dishes. Start cooking the rice. Once the rice is covered, make the curry. It’s okay if the rice stands longer than 10 minutes while the curry finishes—it will stay warm in the saucepan.
Toasting store-bought curry powder in a skillet for our Indian-Style Vegetable Curry turns it into a flavor powerhouse. In addition to the curry powder, a few pinches of garam masala add even more spice flavor. To build the rest of our flavor base, we start with a generous amount of golden sautéed onions plus potent aromatics like garlic, ginger, and fresh chiles. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Then we sizzle whole spices in oil before toasting the rice itself. A final step of steaming ensures a dry, fluffy texture.