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: Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp and Brussels Sprout Salad
Game Plan: The pasta and shrimp require a fair amount of attention during cooking, so prepare all of the ingredients for the salad first, including making the dressing. While the pasta stands for 5 minutes, finish making the salad (if necessary, the pasta can stand a little longer than 5 minutes).
Our Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp is based on a traditional Spanish recipe called fideuà. To streamline the procedure but keep the deep flavor of classic recipe, we replace the traditional slow-cooked fish stock with a quick shrimp stock made with shrimp shells, chicken broth, water, and a bay leaf. We also save time by streamlining the sofrito (the aromatic base common in Spanish cooking), by finely mincing the onion to help it soften and brown more quickly and using canned tomato instead of fresh. The final tweak to our recipe was boosting the flavor of the shrimp by quickly marinating them in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. We dress our Brussels Sprout Salad with a warm mustard vinaigrette that gently tenderizes the sprouts while allowing them to retain their freshness. Bites of quick-pickled shallot and dried apricots add pop, while Ricotta salata cheese, chopped toasted pistachios, and watercress contribute richness, crunch, and a touch of bitterness.
Printable Shopping Lists: Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp and Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette
Cutting BoardsWe thought we’d picked a winner—until our favorite board warped after just a few years. This time we upped the ante: three months of test kitchen boot camp.
Dinner 2: Juicy Pub-Style Burgers and Easier French Fries
Game Plan: Start by freezing the meat for the burgers. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes. Grind, form, and refrigerate the patties (steps 2 and 3). Once the French-fry oil has reached a rolling boil, start searing the burgers, monitoring the fries as they cook.
Our Juicy Pub-Style Burgers start with flavorful sirloin tips that we coarsely grind in a food processor. Melted butter ensures juiciness and encourages browning. Loosely mixing the beef and gently forming the patties helps prevent overworking the meat, which can toughen burgers. Searing in a superhot skillet and then finishing in a low-heat oven yields a crispy, well-browned crust and a juicy center. Our Easier French Fries recipe uses a modest amount of oil and doesn't call for double frying. We start the potatoes in cold oil and fry them over high heat until browned. Low-starch Yukon Golds make for a crisp exterior and a creamy interior.
Clip-On Probe Thermometers for Meat, Deep Frying, and Candy MakingWe made French fries, fried chicken, and caramel sauce, evaluating four thermometers for accuracy, functionality, and durability.
Dinner 3: Fried Brown Rice with Pork and Napa Cabbage Slaw
Game Plan: Start by putting the rice on to boil. As the rice cooks, prep the remaining ingredients for the fried rice and slaw. Once the rice is drained, mix the slaw and let it sit while you prepare the fried rice.
For our Fried Brown Rice with Pork and Shrimp, brown rice stands in for the more conventional white rice. The bran layer keeps the grains from clumping, so we can use freshly cooked rice instead of using leftovers as you would for white rice. Additionally, the bran acts as a nonstick coating on each grain, so brown rice requires far less oil in the frying stage. Napa Cabbage Slaw offers a more tender, delicate texture and a sweeter flavor than traditional green cabbage slaw. To avoid a bland, watered-down slaw, 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.