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: Nut-Crusted Chicken Breasts and Broccoli Rabe
To ensure that our Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Lemon and Thyme are juicy and flavorful, we poke the meat with a fork, salt it, and let it rest before dredging it with a seasoned mixture of half nuts and half panko bread crumbs. To enhance the nutty taste, we cook the coating in browned butter. For our Broiled Broccoli Rabe, we use the intense heat of the broiler to create deep caramelization without overcooking the vegetable. Because most of broccoli rabe’s bitterness comes from an enzymatic reaction triggered when the florets are cut, we keep the leafy parts whole and cut the stalks into large pieces.
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Dinner 2: Stir-Fried Shrimp and Steamed White Rice
Stir-Fried Shrimp with Onion, Bell Peppers, and Cumin starts with tossing the shrimp with a little salt and sugar and letting them sit for 30 minutes. This not only seasons the shrimp but also helps them retain moisture during cooking. When the shrimp are almost ready, we quickly stir-fry the vegetables and set them aside. Then, rather than cook the shrimp over high heat as most recipes call for, we add the sauce to a skillet and poach the shrimp gently in the liquid, covered, to ensure that they stay moist. We serve the stir-fry with Steamed White Rice, which is soft enough to soak up savory sauces, yet sticky enough to pick up with chopsticks. Rinsing the grains removes some of their surface starch and starting them in boiling water provides enough agitation to release the remaining starch, resulting in just the right amount of stickiness.
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Dinner 3: Stuffed Pork Chops and Boiled Carrots
Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Spinach and Fontina Stuffing start with rib chops, which have an unbroken eye of meat into which a wide pocket can be cut with a sharp paring knife. We fill the pocket with a fontina, spinach, and pine nut stuffing to add moisture, fat, and assertive flavors to the lean, mild pork. For Boiled Carrots with Lemon and Chives, we cook the carrots in just 2 cups of well-salted water, which not only adds seasoning, but the small amount of liquid also helps the carrots retain some of their natural sugars as well as helps them cook faster. After draining, we add a little butter for richness and some lemon juice for brightness.