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: Vegetable Paella and Brussels Sprout Salad
Game Plan: Start by pickling the shallots for the salad (step 1). Next, prep and cook the paella. While the rice cooks, finish prepping the ingredients for the salad. Finish the paella. Make the salad while the paella rests in step 4.
Cauliflower and Bean Paella showcases vegetables rather than merely using them to flavor the rice. This hearty version features green and butter beans—tributes to the vegetables Valencians often add to paella de verduras—plus chunky cauliflower florets. In lieu of the meaty fond that lends a savory backbone to protein-based paellas, we retooled a Spanish sofrito to make a complex flavor base. We dress our Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette with a warm dressing that gently tenderizes the sprouts while letting them 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.
The Best 12-Inch Stainless-Steel SkilletsOur longtime favorite 12-inch pan by All-Clad faces new competition. Is it still the best choice?
Dinner 2: Spanish Migas and Leafy Green Salad
Game Plan: Start by prepping and cooking the migas, using any unattended cooking time to prep the salad ingredients. Toss the salad while the eggs cook off heat in step 4.
Spanish Migas with Fried Eggs is made by frying bread crumbs in pork fat to create a rich, satisfying hash. We render the fat from a mixture of soft chorizo and thick-cut bacon, then fry pieces of bread in the fat until the smallest pieces are browned and crisped throughout and the larger pieces are crisped on the outside and moist within. Next, we fry a mixture of Cubanelle and red bell peppers until they blister and soften, return the meat to the pan, and add sherry vinegar for brightness and parsley for color. Finally, we top the dish with sunny-side up fried eggs. The Leafy Green Salad can be adapted to work with your favorite mix of greens or lettuces. Feel free to use any type of vinegar in the dressing, but make sure to stick with a 4:1 ratio of oil to vinegar.
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 3: Smashed Burger and French Fries
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both recipes and make the burger sauce. Start cooking the fries. Once you have stirred the french fries (step 2), start the burgers, monitoring the fries as they cook.
Smashed Burgers share the same thin, verging-on-well-done profile as typical fast-food burgers, but their big selling point is an ultrabrown, crispy crust. We use commercial ground beef instead of grinding our own because the former is ground finer and thus exposes more myosin, a sticky meat protein that helps the patties hold together when they are smashed. Using a small saucepan to press straight down on the meat ensures that it spreads and sticks uniformly to the skillet (instead of shrinking as it is cooked), which helps guarantee deep browning. 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.
Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter
The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.