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Dinner This Week

Dinner This Week: Steak Tacos

This week’s menus include Steak Tacos, Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage, and Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Apricots for dinner in about an hour.
By Published Jan. 3, 2020

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: Steak Tacos and Mexican Rice

Game Plan: Prepare the herb paste and marinate the steaks. While steaks sit, make the rice. Start searing the steaks once you have stirred the rice halfway through cooking. The finished rice can stand, covered, if it's done before the tacos.

For our Steak Tacos, we pan-sear flank steak to give it the browned exterior and crisp, brittle edges characteristic of grilled meat. A paste of oil, cilantro, scallions, garlic, and jalapeño applied to the steak and scraped off just before cooking gives the meat a flavor boost without sacrificing browning. Mexican Rice is a pilaf-style dish infused with tomatoes, chiles, and onion. To keep the rice grains distinct, we rinse them of excess starch before cooking. Equal portions of chicken broth and fresh tomatoes are ideal for a savory liquid base. To further enhance the flavor, color, and texture, we also add a little tomato paste.

Printable Shopping Lists: Steak Tacos and Mexican Rice

Dinner 2: Pasta with Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad

Game Plan: Prep the salad ingredients and then set them aside while you cook the pasta. After you have drained the pasta and tossed it with the squash mixture, warm the dressing and toss the salad.

Our Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage transforms mild squash into a savory pasta sauce. First, we sauté the squash in a little bacon fat, infusing it with porky flavor while it caramelizes. Then, we add chicken broth and braise the squash for a few minutes to turn it into a sauce that is not only flavorful but also clings well to the pasta. Lemon juice adds brightness, Parmesan cheese provides a layer of salty richness, and toasted sliced almonds offer crunch. In our brightly flavored Wilted Spinach Salad with Oranges, Radishes, and Citrus Vinaigrette, the vinaigrette does all the work for you: Simply heat the dressing ingredients in a skillet and pour it over the spinach, then add citrus segments and radishes.

Printable Shopping Lists: Pasta with Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad

Dinner 3: Moroccan Chicken Tagine and Couscous

Game Plan: Start with the tagine. Once the carrots, apricots, and chicken breasts have been added to the pot (step 4), start preparing the couscous. As you brown the couscous, keep an eye on the chicken to make sure it doesn't overcook.

Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Apricots offers rich flavor in about one hour. A standard braising procedure builds complexity: First, we brown skin-on  chicken pieces to give the braising liquid savory depth; next, we remove the chicken from the pot and sauté onion, strips of lemon zest, garlic, and a heady spice blend (paprika, cumin, cayenne, ginger, coriander, and cinnamon) in a little oil. Finally, after adding chicken broth and honey, we return the chicken to the pot to finish cooking. We use a pilaf method for our Couscous with Dates and Pistachios that starts with gently browning the pasta to add toastiness. We steam the couscous in a combination of chicken broth and water before stirring in dates and pistachios for sweetness and crunch.

Printable Shopping Lists: Moroccan Chicken Tagine and Couscous


View more weeknight dinner ideas below, or check out all of the Dinner This Week menus.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.