Weeknight Cooking

Dinner This Week: Cacio e Pepe

This week’s menus include Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper, Cider-Glazed Pork Chops, and Tortilla Soup for dinner in about an hour.

Published Nov. 5, 2021.

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.

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Dinner 1: Cacio e Pepe and Brussels Sprout Salad

Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes and complete step 1 of the salad recipe. Start boiling the pasta, then prepare the salad (step 2). Finish the pasta.

For Cacio e Pepe that is creamy and smooth, we swap butter for heavy cream, which contains more emulsifying proteins that encourage the water and fat to form a saucy consistency rather than separate. Our Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Browned Butter Vinaigrette uses a warm vinaigrette to gently tenderize the shredded sprouts while allowing them to retain their fresh, mustardy taste. Manchego cheese, chopped toasted hazelnuts, and baby arugula add richness, flavor, and peppery zing.

Printable Shopping Lists: Cacio e Pepe and Brussels Sprout Salad

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Dinner 2: Glazed Pork Chops and Skillet-Roasted Carrots

Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Once the pork chop glaze has been added to the skillet in step 2, start cooking the carrots.

Cider-Glazed Pork Chops are quick, juicy, and full of flavor—and require just a handful of ingredients to make. If apple cider or juice is unavailable, orange or pineapple juice can be substituted. Another alternative is to make a quick barbecue glaze by thinning 1 cup of store-bought barbecue sauce with 1/4 cup of water. Skillet-Roasted Carrots develop deep roasted flavor in a fraction of the time that it would take in the oven. To ensure even browning, make sure to press the carrots gently against the skillet as they cook. 

Printable Shopping Lists: Glazed Pork Chops and Skillet-Roasted Carrots

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Dinner 3: Tortilla Soup and Corn Muffins

Game Plan: Preheat your oven while prepping the ingredients for both recipes. Start by completing steps 1 and 2 of the soup recipe, using any unattended time to mix the muffin batter. Once the tortilla strips have been removed from the oven, bake the muffins. While muffins bake and cool, finish the soup.

To achieve maximum flavor in our Tortilla Soup, we make a puree of chipotle chiles, tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeños, and epazote, and then fry the puree in oil over high heat. We then add chicken broth, which we strain after poaching chicken in it and infusing it with onions, garlic, cilantro, and oregano. For a Savory Corn Muffin with great cornmeal flavor, we use a ratio of 2 parts cornmeal to 1 part flour and ditch the copious amount of sugar found in most recipes. To keep the muffins from becoming dry, we precook a portion of the cornmeal with milk to make a polenta-like porridge. This hydrates and gels the starch in the cornmeal and traps free water to produce a supermoist muffin.

Printable Shopping Lists: Tortilla Soup and Corn Muffins

To view more quick weeknight dinner ideas, check out the rest of the Dinner This Week series.


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