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: Roasted Chicken Breasts and Green Bean Salad
Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts start with an application of salt under the skin to season the meat and help it retain moisture. Gently roasting the chicken at 325 degrees minimizes moisture loss and results in even cooking. A final sear in a hot skillet is all that is required for crackly, burnished skin. To ensure that the beans in Green Bean Salad with Shallot, Mustard, and Tarragon are tender, bright green, and deeply flavored, we boil them in highly concentrated salt water (¼ cup of salt to 2 quarts of water). This quickly softens the pectin in the beans' skins, so they become tender before losing their vibrant color; it also seasons them inside and out.
12-Inch Nonstick SkilletsWe demanded our contenders clear a slew of sticky hurdles.
Dinner 2: Beef Stir-Fry with Bell Peppers and Stir-Fried Bok Choy
Game Plan: Prep and marinate the beef (steps 1 and 2), then prep the black pepper sauce (step 3). While the beef sits, prep all of the ingredients for the bok choy. Stir-fry the beef (steps 4 and 5). Wipe out the skillet and stir-fry the bok choy. Once the bok choy is cooked, transfer it to a serving platter, wipe out the skillet, and finish the beef (steps 6 and 7).
Beef Stir-Fry with Bell Peppers and Black Pepper Sauce starts with flank steak, which delivers rich, beefy flavor. Soaking the steak slices briefly in a mild baking soda solution and then in a soy-based marinade yields supertender, flavorful results. For crisp-tender Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Soy Sauce and Ginger, we separate the leaves and stalks and cook them separately. Small amounts of soy sauce and fresh ginger accent the bok choy’s fresh, vegetal flavor without overwhelming it.
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Dinner 3: Penne Arrabbiata and Bibb and Frisée Salad
For Penne Arrabbiata with complex flavor—not just searing heat—we look beyond the tradition of using only red pepper flakes and include three different types of pepper. By supplementing the pepper flakes with paprika and pickled pepperoncini, we build depth while keeping the spiciness in check. 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. Toasted walnuts add crunch and nuttiness.