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: Indoor Pulled Chicken and Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw
Game Plan: Whisk together the dressing for the coleslaw and place it in the freezer. Next, start the chicken. As the chicken cooks, prep the remaining slaw ingredients and microwave the cabbage. Refrigerate the slaw while you finish the chicken.
Indoor Pulled Chicken mimics the flavor and texture of outdoor slow-smoked pulled chicken in just a fraction of the time. We braise boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a mixture of chicken broth, salt, sugar, molasses, gelatin, and liquid smoke, then shred the meat and mix it with a tangy barbecue sauce. To keep coleslaw crisp, you need to get rid of the cabbage’s excess water. For our Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw, we do this by microwaving shredded cabbage tossed with salt and sugar. In seconds, the cabbage sheds the same amount of liquid that it would release in 3 hours at room temperature . Cooling down the cabbage is easy: We simply chill the dressing in the freezer and then refrigerate the finished slaw for a few minutes.
The Best Large Dutch OvensDutch ovens do it all. But which pot makes “it all” easiest?
Dinner 2: Italian Vegetable Stew and Creamy Parmesan Polenta
Game Plan: Start by microwaving the eggplant. Next, move on to the polenta. After the cornmeal has been added to the water, make the stew. If the polenta is finished before the stew, it can stand, covered, off the heat.
Italian Vegetable Stew is a ratatouille-like dish chock-full of veggies that makes for a hearty meal with nary a trace of meat. To give the stew body, we embrace eggplant’s natural tendency to fall apart and cook it until it melts into a tomato-enriched sauce. To avoid mushy vegetables, we sauté the zucchini and peppers separately in a hot skillet. A final addition of a pestata (garlic and herb paste) provides a flavor punch at the end of cooking. For our Creamy Parmesan Polenta, we use coarse-ground, degerminated cornmeal, which yields a soft but hearty consistency. A pinch of baking soda cuts the cooking time in half and eliminates the need for stirring.
Mixing BowlsThis most basic piece of cooking equipment might not seem worthy of scrutiny—until you have one that wobbles when you whisk, slips in your hand, or traps food in its crevices.
Dinner 3: Cod Baked in Foil and Braised Red Potatoes
Game Plan: Begin by prepping the ingredients for the fish. Next, start cooking the potatoes. As the potatoes simmer, make the fish packets. Once the lid has been removed from the potatoes, start cooking the fish. Plate the fish as the potatoes finish.
Cod Baked in Foil yields flaky fish and tender but firm vegetables flavored by aromatic juices. We place the packets on the lower-middle rack of the oven close to the heat source in order to cook the fish and vegetables quickly and evenly and also to reduce the exuded liquid into a flavorful sauce. Braised Red Potatoes is a one-pot side dish that features the benefits of both boiling and roasting. We combine small red potatoes, butter, and salted water in a 12-inch skillet and simmer the potatoes until they turn creamy. We then fully evaporate the water and allow the potatoes to brown in the butter.