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: Smothered Pork Chops and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Game Plan: Start by taking the buttermilk out of the fridge so it can come up to room temperature. Next, prepare the chops through step 3, using any down time to peel the potatoes. As the chops braise, boil and mash the potatoes.
Our Smothered Pork Chops start with juicy and flavorful bone-in, rib-end pork chops. We first sear the chops in bacon fat, then slowly braise them in a sweet, salty, smoky onion gravy. To prevent our Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes from developing a curdled appearance, we add melted butter to room-temperature buttermilk: This coats the proteins in the buttermilk and thus protects them from heat shock when they hit the hot potatoes. Because buttermilk contains very little fat, we add a couple of tablespoons of butter to the potatoes so they don't taste too lean.
Food ProcessorsHow much do you need to spend to get a machine that makes light work of chopping, slicing, shredding, and mixing?
Dinner 2: Greek-Style Lamb Pita Sandwiches and Chopped Carrot Salad
Game Plan: Start by draining the yogurt and salting the cucumber for the tzatziki sauce. Meanwhile, prep the lamb patties and make the carrot salad. Once the tzatziki has been mixed, finish preparing the sandwiches (steps 5 and 6).
For Greek-Style Lamb Pita Sandwiches with the same flavors and textures as restaurant gyros, we pan-fry ground lamb patties seasoned with oregano, onion, and minced garlic. To ensure that the patties are juicy, we add a panade (a paste of fresh bread crumbs and milk), substituting pita crumbs for the traditional bread crumbs. Chopped Carrot Salad with Mint, Pistachios, and Pomegranate Seeds starts by finely chopping carrots in the food processor instead of grating them by hand. This procduces a delicately crunchy, light-textured base in just seconds. We save even more time by not peeling the carrots; scrubbing them is sufficient, and the skins contribute a subtle but pleasant bitterness. Plenty of fresh mint, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pistachios brighten things up and a lively dressing brings the salad together.
The Best Potato MashersWhat makes a great potato masher?
Dinner 3: Baked Sole Fillets and Green Beans Amandine
Game Plan: Start by cooking the sole through step 3. While the fillets bake, make the bread crumb topping and the sauce for the green beans (use the same skillet). Once the bread crumbs have been added to the fish (step 5), cook the green beans.
For our Baked Sole Fillets with Herbs and Bread Crumbs, we roll the fillets into compact bundles so they cook evenly. To enliven the fish’s mild flavor, we add Dijon mustard and a variety of fresh herbs. A simple topping of toasted bread crumbs contributes texture and richness. Green Beans Amandine starts with a sauce containing plenty of toasted almonds, nutty browned butter, and a splash of lemon juice. We steam the green beans in a little water in a covered skillet until they are crisp-tender, then add the sauce right before serving to preserve the texture of the green beans and almonds.