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: Pan-Seared Shrimp and Rice and Pasta Pilaf
For Pan-Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Lemon Butter, we season the shrimp with salt, pepper, and sugar, which encourages a well-caramelized exterior and brings out the shrimp’s natural sweetness. We sear the shrimp in batches and then pair them with a flavorful compound butter to add richness and acidity. Rice and Pasta Pilaf combines tender rice with toasted, nutty pieces of vermicelli. In order to have both ingredients finish cooking at the same time, we soak the rice in hot water for 10 minutes to soften the outer coating of the grains and help them absorb water quickly. We let the cooked pilaf stand for 10 minutes with a towel under the lid to keep it from becoming soggy.
The Best SaucepansThe saucepan is a kitchen essential, used to make everything from soup to custard. Which is best?
Dinner 2: Chorizo and Potato Frittata with Pan-Steamed Broccolini
Our Chorizo and Potato Frittata combines a well-seasoned filling of garlicky sausage and tender potatoes with a dozen eggs to make a substantial dinner. To help the eggs stay tender even when cooked to a relatively high temperature, we add milk and salt. The liquid dilutes the proteins, making it harder for them to coagulate and turn the eggs rubbery, and the salt weakens the interactions between proteins, producing a softer curd. For Pan-Steamed Broccolini with Lemon and Capers, we split any thicker stems lengthwise so that they are the same size as the thinner ones, allowing for even cooking along the length of the vegetable.
The Best Nonstick SkilletsThese pans are wildly popular for a reason. When you have a good one, food never sticks and cleanup is a breeze.
Dinner 3: Indoor Pulled Chicken and Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw
Indoor Pulled Chicken with Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce mimics the flavor and texture of outdoor slow-smoked pulled chicken in just a fraction of the time. We braise boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a mixture of chicken broth, salt, sugar, molasses, gelatin, and liquid smoke, then shred the meat and mix it with a tangy barbecue sauce. Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw with Red Bell Pepper offers a more tender, delicate texture and a sweeter flavor than traditional green cabbage slaw. To avoid a bland, watered-down salad, we make a potent dressing with a high ratio of vinegar to oil. After tossing the cabbage with the dressing and letting it sit for about 5 minutes, moisture from the cabbage dilutes the dressing slightly, so the slaw reaches the perfect level of bright acidity.