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: Grilled Tuna and Fresh Corn Salsa
For Gas-Grilled Tuna Steaks (find the charcoal version here) with a smoky char and a moist interior, we coat the fish in red wine vinegar and mustard vinaigrette prior to grilling. Honey in the vinaigrette promotes browning, and oil keeps the fish moist. Steeping corn kernels in boiling water with a touch of baking soda works like magic to soften the raw corn for a side dish of Fresh Corn Salsa with Peach and Radishes. As the corn soaks, its hulls soften just enough that they aren’t leathery, but the kernels still burst with crisp sweetness.
The Best Kitchen TongsWhich pair offers the best precision and comfort?
Dinner 2: Roast Chicken with Corn and Bean Succotash
Weeknight Roast Chicken boasts rich flavor and juicy meat in about an hour. Placing the chicken breast side up in a preheated skillet gives the thighs a jump-start. Starting the chicken in a 450-degree oven and then turning the oven off while the chicken finishes cooking ensures moist, tender meat. Modern Succotash with Fennel and Scallions is a simple side dish made with crisp, sweet fresh corn and creamy beans. For the corn, crisp kernels fresh from the cob are the best option. For beans, we use canned cannellini beans instead of limas as they have a creamy consistency and pleasantly mild flavor.
The Best SaucepansThe saucepan is a kitchen essential, used to make everything from soup to custard. Which is best?
Dinner 3: Italian Sausage with Grapes and Creamy Polenta
Game Plan: For this pairing, start with the polenta. Once the cornmeal has been added to the water and the heat reduced, start preparing the sausage. By the time the polenta is fully cooked, the sausages should be ready to serve as well. If the sausages are done early, they can be held in the skillet, covered, and rewarmed before serving.
Italian Sausage with Grapes and Balsamic Vinegar is a great example of the affinity that pork and fruit have for each other. Taking inspiration from a potsticker cooking method, we use a combination of sautéing and steaming to produce sausages that are nicely browned while still moist and juicy. For the sauce, we cook down seedless red grapes and thinly sliced onion until caramelized to create a sweet but complex base. White wine, in addition to balsamic vinegar, lends the dish acidity and complements the grapes. Oregano and pepper contribute earthiness and a touch of spice, while a finish of fresh mint adds brightness. For our Creamy Parmesan Polenta, we use coarse-ground, degerminated cornmeal, which provides a soft but hearty texture and nutty flavor. A pinch of baking soda cuts the cooking time in half and eliminates the need for stirring.