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
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 Dutch OvensA Dutch oven is an essential investment for serious cooks. We find the best options at every price and in every size.
Dinner 2: Italian Vegetable Stew and Creamy Parmesan Polenta
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.
The Best 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
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.