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: Indian Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice Pilaf
Game Plan: Prepare the chicken through step 1. Once the sauce is complete, start the rice. While the rice cooks, finish the chicken (steps 2 and 3).
Murgh Makahni (Indian Butter Chicken) starts with an aromatic base of onion, garlic, ginger, and chile cooked in butter with garam masala, coriander, cumin, and black pepper. A hefty portion of tomato paste and water creates a sauce with bright acidity, and a finish of heavy cream and a little more butter adds velvety richness. To imitate the deep charring produced by a tandoor oven, we broil chicken thighs coated in yogurt (its milk proteins and lactose brown quickly and deeply) before cutting them into chunks and stirring them into the sauce. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Then we toast whole spices in oil before toasting the rice itself. A final step of steaming ensures a dry, fluffy texture.
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Dinner 2: Pasta with Cheese and Eggs with Asparagus Salad
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Sauté the asparagus and make the dressing (steps 1 and 2) for the salad. Cook the pasta. Toss the salad right before serving.
Pasta Cacio e Uova, or pasta with cheese and eggs, comes together quickly and features small tubetti pasta coated in a rich, velvety sauce of olive oil, cheese, and eggs. The hot pasta cooks the eggs and melts the cheese, turning the mixture into a silky sauce. Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Spinach Salad with Sherry Vinegar and Goat Cheese is a boldly flavored salad with a tender-crisp texture. The addition of goat cheese makes the salad substantial, and a sherry vinegar dressing provides zesty flavor.
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Dinner 3: Smothered Pork Chops and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Game Plan: Start by taking the buttermilk out of the fridge so it can come up to room temperature. Next, prepare the chops through step 3, using any down time to peel the potatoes. While the chops braise, boil and mash the potatoes.
Our Smothered Pork Chops start with juicy and flavorful bone-in, rib-end pork chops. We first sear the chops in bacon fat, then slowly braise them in a sweet, salty, smoky onion gravy. To prevent our Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes from developing a curdled appearance, we add melted butter to room-temperature buttermilk: This coats the proteins in the buttermilk and thus protects them from heat shock when they hit the hot potatoes. Because buttermilk contains very little fat, we add a couple of tablespoons of butter to the potatoes so they don't taste too lean.
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