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: Chicken Piccata and Pan-Roasted Pear Salad
Game Plan: Start by cooking the pears, then allow them to cool while prepping the chicken and the remaining salad ingredients. Cook the chicken, then toss the salad right before serving.
For Chicken Piccata with tender chicken and a rich, flavorful lemon sauce, we start by briefly salting the cutlets to boost their ability to retain moisture and then lightly coat them in flour, which helps with browning. We sear the cutlets quickly on both sides and set them aside while making the sauce, which includes both lemon juice and lemon slices for complexity and textural appeal. A hearty amount of briny capers and a few tablespoons of butter finish the dish. For Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Watercress, Parmesan, and Pecans, we toss quartered pears with a little sugar and cook them in a skillet until golden brown and softened. Adding a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the hot pan yields a sweet/tart glaze. Spicy watercress balances the sweet pears and shaved Parmesan and toasted pecans add richness and texture.
Fruit/Vegetable PeelersWhy do some peelers skin produce with ease while others barely make the cut?
Dinner 2: Oven-Steamed Fish and Steamed White Rice
Game Plan: Prep the fish through step 2, then start steaming the rice. Once the rice has been covered (step 3) start steaming the fish.
Oven-Steamed Fish with Scallions and Ginger employs both classic Chinese and French methods for cooking fish. We start by swapping the steamer for a tightly covered baking pan and the stovetop for a hot oven. Placing the skinless fillets on a foil sling allows the fish to flavor the cooking liquid and made it easy to transfer the fish to a serving platter without the fillets falling apart. Removing the fish from the oven before it is fully cooked prevents it from overcooking when finished with sizzling ginger-infused oil. Steamed White Rice is soft enough to soak up the savory sauce, yet sticky enough to pick up with chopsticks. Rinsing the grains removes some of their surface starch, and starting the rice in boiling water provides enough agitation to release the remaining starch, resulting in just the right amount of stickiness.
The Best 13 by 9-Inch Baking Pans/DishesCould it possibly make much difference which metal 13 by 9-inch pan you use? Several dozen rounds of baking later, the answer was an unequivocal yes.
Dinner 3: Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Sautéed Cabbage
Game Plan: Start by prepping the ingredients for both the pork and the cabbage. Once the pork has been transferred to the oven, wipe out the nonstick skillet and use it to cook the bacon and onion mixture for the cabbage (step 2), but wait until the pork is resting to sauté the cabbage (steps 3 and 4).
Our Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin recipe employs a stovetop-to-oven method that yields a well-browned crust and a succulent, tender interior. For a maple glaze that will adhere to the meat we have three tricks. First, we mix the syrup with molasses and mustard to create a thicker glaze. Second, we coat the tenderloin with cornstarch so the glaze will bond to it. Third, we add a second coat of glaze when the meat is nearly done. In our recipe for Sautéed Cabbage with Bacon and Caraway Seeds, we mitigate the pungent flavors and sulfurous odors that can plague overcooked cabbage. Instead of boiling or braising, we pan-steam and sauté the cabbage over relatively high heat to cook it quickly and add an extra layer of flavor from browning. Soaking the cabbage before cooking reduces bitterness while providing extra moisture to help the cabbage steam.