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: Classic Beef Stroganoff and Green Beans
Game Plan: Both recipes call for a 12-inch skillet. If you only have one traditional skillet, a nonstick or cast-iron skillet can be used to finish the green beans. Start by prepping and blanching the green beans (step 2). Next, prepare the stroganoff. Reheat the green beans as the beef and mushrooms warm through in the stroganoff sauce.
For our Classic Beef Stroganoff, we cut ultratender beef tenderloin into meaty chunks. To build flavor, we brown the beef and mushrooms and use beef broth to deglaze the pan. We then add chicken broth, tomato paste, onion, brown sugar, and wine to create depth; a little flour thickens the sauce; and sour cream adds richness and tang. For Green Beans with Sautéed Shallots and Vermouth we first blanch the beans until they are tender-crisp. Then, to flavor the beans, we sauté thinly sliced shallots in butter until golden brown and finish with a splash of herbal vermouth.
The Best Kitchen TongsWhich pair offers the best precision and comfort?
Dinner 2: Chicken Marsala and Roast Potatoes
Game Plan: Prepare the chicken through step 3, then start roasting the potatoes. While the potatoes cook, finish the chicken (steps 4 through 6).
We start our Chicken Marsala by salting cutlets to boost their ability to retain moisture. A light coating of flour accelerates browning and helps prevent the meat from overcooking. Our sauce includes dry Marsala, chicken broth, and cremini and dried porcini mushrooms for rich flavor; gelatin contributes silkiness. Roast Potatoes should be crisp and deep golden brown on the exterior, with moist, velvety, dense interiors. To achieve this, we start with waxy Red Bliss potatoes. Covering the potatoes with foil for part of their roasting time helps keep them moist.
The Best Slotted SpoonsWe rounded up eight dishwasher-safe nylon, silicone, and stainless-steel spoons, and used them to fish out green peas, poached eggs, meatballs, and jumbo shrimp from liquids in different kinds of cookware.
Dinner 3: Spaghetti Carbonara and Insalata Mista
Game Plan: Prep all the ingredients for the salad, but wait to toss it. Make the Carbonara. As the pasta rests at the end of step 3, rewhisk the dressing and toss the salad.
For our Spaghetti Carbonara, we reduce the usual amount of water used to boil the pasta by half. This gives us a concentrated starchy liquid to use in the sauce. The extra starch coats the proteins and fats in the cheese and prevents them from separating or clumping together. The starch also works in concert with the egg white proteins to lend viscosity. Egg yolks introduce a pleasant custardy richness. Insalta Mista uses a mix of mild lettuces along with smaller amounts of spicy greens (watercress and arugula) and bitter greens (radicchio and endive). For color and textural contrast, we add grated carrot and slices of cucumber and red onion. In the dressing, we use two types of vinegar: Red wine provides assertive acidity while balsamic vinegar brings sweet, caramel-like notes.