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: Garlicky Roasted Shrimp and Napa Cabbage Slaw
Game Plan: Start by brining the shrimp. As the shrimp sits, prep the remaining ingredients for both dishes. Prepare the slaw through step 1. Once the slaw has been tossed (step 2), roast the shrimp. Add the peanuts and mint to the slaw just before serving.
To keep our Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Cumin, Ginger, and Sesame plump and moist, we brine the shrimp briefly and then broil them in their shells. The shells brown quickly in the heat of the oven and transfer roasted flavor to the shrimp. Napa Cabbage Slaw with Snow Peas and Mint 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.
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Dinner 2: Pan-Roasted Chicken and Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs
Game Plan: Start by brining the chicken and boiling the farro. Once the farro is cooked, it can be drained and held in a covered saucepan. Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients for both dishes. While the chicken is in the oven, soften the onion for the farro. As the sauce for the chicken reduces (step 4), finish the farro.
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Shallot and Vermouth Sauce produces juicy, tender meat and crisp, flavorful skin in record time. We start with a brief brine to ensure moist, seasoned chicken. A quick sear creates golden brown skin plus flavorful fond for the pan sauce. Finishing the chicken in a 450-degree oven cooks the meat quickly and evenly. For Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs, we prefer whole farro, in which the grain’s germ and bran have been retained, giving it a pleasant chewiness and a nutty flavor. The simplest cooking method is best: Just boil the farro in salted water for about 20 minutes until tender. After the grains are drained, we combine them with sautéed onions, a copious amount of fresh herbs, and a sprinkling of lemon.
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Dinner 3: Pasta alla Gricia and Arugula Salad
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Mix the salad dressing while the pasta is cooking. Toss the salad while the cheese melts into the pasta (step 5).
Pasta alla Gricia is a simple pasta dish based on cured pork, black pepper, and Pecorino Romano. The fat from the pork (guanciale is traditional, but easier-to-find pancetta works well) combines with starchy pasta cooking water and cheese to create a creamy sauce for the pasta. For consistent results, we cook the pasta to al dente in half the usual amount of water and then add the extra-starchy pasta cooking water to the rendered pork fat and reduce the mixture to a specific volume. For our Arugula Salad with Grapes, Fennel, Gorgonzola, and Pecans, we add ingredients to temper the assertiveness of the arugula while accommodating its lively flavor. Grapes and blue cheese add sweet and salty counterpoints to the sharp, peppery greens; pecans and fennel contribute crunch and freshness. For the dressing, we add a spoonful of jam, which adds fruity sweetness and pulls the flavors of the salad in line.
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