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: Glazed Chicken Breasts and Acorn Squash
Apple-Maple Glazed Chicken Breasts feature perfectly rendered skin, moist meat, and a complex glaze. We lightly coat the chicken with flour to enhance browning and provide a good grip for the glaze. Corn syrup, which is half as sweet as sugar, gives the glaze just the right amount of stickiness while keeping the sweetness level in check. Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar starts in the microwave, which yields tender, silky smooth squash. We then brush the cooked squash with butter and brown sugar before broiling it to create a rich, caramelized exterior.
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Dinner 2: Stir-Fried Beef and Skillet-Charred Green Beans
Game Plan: You will need two nonstick skillets for this pairing. If you only have one, use a traditional skillet for the green beans. Prep and microwave the green beans (step 2), using any unattended cooking time to prep the stir-fry ingredients. Since the green beans don’t require much attention while they char, stir-fry the beef at the same time.
Stir-Fried Thai-Style Beef with Chiles and Shallots starts with inexpensive blade steak, which offers tenderness and beefy flavor. A marinade of fish sauce, white pepper, citrusy coriander, and a little light brown sugar enhances the flavor of the meat before it is stir-fried with sliced shallot and chiles. Mint, cilantro, and chopped peanuts finish the dish with freshness and crunch. Skillet-Charred Green Beans have a soft, appealingly dense, satisfying chew and concentrated flavor. To achieve those results, we first soften the beans by steaming them in the microwave. Then we char them in a skillet, without stirring, in a couple of tablespoons of hot oil. Once they are charred, we season them with a lemony salt-and-pepper mixture.
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Dinner 3: Oven-Steamed Mussels and Brussels Sprout Salad
To ensure even doneness, we cook Oven-Steamed Mussels with Hard Cider and Bacon in the gentle, enveloping heat of the oven in a large roasting pan so they aren’t too crowded. Our Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Browned Butter Vinaigrette uses a warm dressing to gently tenderize the shredded sprouts while allowing them to retain their fresh, mustardy taste. Dried cranberries add pops of flavor and toasted hazelnuts contribute crunch.