Weeknight Cooking

Dinner This Week: Oven-Fried Chicken

This week’s menus include Oven-Fried Chicken, Seared Thick-Cut Pork Chops, and Pasta e Ceci for dinner in an hour or less.

Published Feb. 22, 2019.

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.

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Dinner 1: Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Pork Chops and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Game Plan: Start by salting the pork chops. While the chops sit, preheat the oven and prep the ingredients for the potatoes. Once the potatoes are simmering, place the chops in the oven. Mash the potatoes before searing the chops.

Our Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Pork Chops employ a reverse-sear method: We first cook the salted chops in a low oven and then sear them right before serving. Slowly bringing the chops up to temperature ensures evenly cooked meat. The low oven also dries the surface of the chops so they develop a deeply browned crust when seared. To keep our Mashed Sweet Potatoes from becoming thin and watery, we braise the sliced potatoes in small amounts of heavy cream and butter. This provides just enough moisture to yield a silky puree while adding a hint of richness.  

Printable Shopping ListsPan-Seared Thick-Cut Pork Chops and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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Dinner 2: Oven-Fried Chicken and Roasted Carrots

Game Plan: The two dishes in this pairing are baked at the same time. Use a 400-degree oven for both recipes, and prep all of the ingredients while the oven preheats. Put the carrots in the oven first. After 5 minutes, add the chicken. The two should finish cooking at about the same time.

To create Oven-Fried Chicken with real crunch and good flavor, we dip chicken in beaten egg seasoned with spices and Dijon mustard and then dredge the pieces in crushed Melba toast, which we found provided better texture, flavor, and color than cornflakes, bread crumbs, bagel chips, or any other coating we tried. We use legs and thighs rather than breasts because they don't dry out as quickly (breasts are OK if that's your preference) and bake the chicken at 400 degrees for 40 minutes to develop a deeply browned coating. For perfect Roasted Carrots, we start by cutting the carrots into identically sized batons. We first precook the pieces on a covered baking sheet to minimize moisture loss and withering. Then, when the carrots are tender, we remove the foil and roast them until they caramelize.

Printable Shopping ListsOven-Fried Chicken and Roasted Carrots

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Dinner 3: Pasta e Ceci and Bibb and Frisée Salad

Game Plan: Start by preparing the Pasta e Ceci. As it simmers in step 2, prep all the ingredients for the salad. Toss the salad right before serving.

Our Pasta e Ceci is simple to prepare, yet packed full of satisfying flavor. A finely minced soffritto of onions, garlic, carrot, celery, and pancetta gives the dish a meaty backbone and anchovies, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese add even more depth. To ensure a silky, stick-to-your-ribs texture, we cook the pasta in the same pot with the chickpeas to capture the starches released during cooking. Our Bibb and Frisée Salad uses a combination of frilly, crunchy frisée and soft, buttery bibb lettuce. Thinly slicing the celery and apple allows them to combine cohesively with the salad greens. Walnuts add crunch and nuttiness. We use red wine vinegar as a base for the dressing to accent the apple's sweetness and the celery's subtle earthiness.

Printable Shopping ListsPasta e Ceci and Bibb and Frisée Salad

To view more quick weeknight dinner ideas, check out the rest of the Dinner This Week series.


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