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: Poached Salmon with Bourbon and Maple and Couscous with Shallots
Our Poached Salmon with Bourbon and Maple features tender fish accented by the delicate poaching liquid flavored with bourbon, maple syrup, whole-grain mustard, and cider vinegar. Placing the fillets on lemon slices prevents the bottom sides from overcooking. Our Couscous with Shallots, Garlic, and Almonds uses the pilaf method to yield couscous that cooks up fluffy and separate. We bump up its flavor by using a combination of chicken broth and water, and we add toasted almonds for crunch.
Best Chef's KnivesOne chef’s knife has been a champ in our kitchen for nearly two decades. Can any other blade come close to offering what it does—and at a bargain price?
Dinner 2: Fast Beef Chili and Cornbread with Jalapeños
For our Fast All-American Beef Chili, we double up on pots to reduce the simmering time by half. In one pot, we simmer beans, chipotle chiles, and canned diced tomatoes. In a second, we brown ground beef to develop a rich fond, and then add aromatics and spices. After each pot has developed its own flavor, we combine the two and simmer them together for a mere 15 minutes before serving. Golden Northern Cornbread with Jalapeños has a rich corn taste and a handsome golden color. We found the best flavor, texture, and rise resulted from a 1:1 ratio of cornmeal to all-purpose flour. A combination of half milk and half buttermilk makes for cornbread with a wonderful taste and light texture.
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Dinner 3: Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets and Skillet-Roasted Sugar Snap Peas
For our Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets, we ditch the usual homemade bread crumbs in favor of drier, crunchier panko. For a more delicate crust, we omit the flour in the breading process. To know when the frying oil is at just the right temperature, we add a pinch of panko to the skillet with the oil. When the crumbs turn golden brown, it's time to start frying. Skillet-Roasted Sugar Snap Peas start in a hot skillet in a single layer, and we cook them without stirring so they can brown. Once the peas are crisp-tender, we add garlic and soy sauce and give them another couple of tosses to ensure that they are uniformly flavored. Toasted sesame seeds add texture and visual appeal.