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: Risi e Bisi and Steamed Asparagus
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes, including peeling and cutting the asparagus. Start cooking the rice. After the rice has been cooking for 10 minutes, steam the asparagus. Once the asparagus is done, the rice should be ready to finish (step 4).
Risi e Bisi is a Venetian risotto-like dish made with arborio rice and peas and flavored with pancetta. Our recipe is mostly hands-free, save for vigorous whisking of the rice at the end of cooking to liberate enough of its starch to thicken the broth and provide the dish with a light but satisfying consistency. For our Pan-Steamed Asparagus with Anchovies and Red Pepper Flakes, we steam the spears in a small amount of water in a covered skillet to which we also add olive oil, salt, and garlic. We then simmer until the water evaporates, leaving the asparagus crisp-tender.
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Dinner 2: Beijing-Style Meat Sauce and Noodles with Stir-Fried Broccoli
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Make the sauce through step 3, then start cooking the broccoli. While stir-frying the broccoli, boil, drain, and sauce the noodles.
Beijing-Style Meat Sauce and Noodles is an easy-to-make one-dish meal based on a popular dish from northern China, zha jiang mian. Our version calls for red miso paste and soy sauce in place of ground bean sauce and a combination of hoisin, molasses, and soy sauce as a substitute for sweet bean sauce. Shiitake mushrooms and a small amount of ground pork added even more meaty depth. For Stir-Fried Broccoli with Orange and Ginger that is tender yet still crisp, we prepare the stalks and florets separately and stir-fry the vegetables over medium-high heat rather than a blazing-hot flame. Tossing the broccoli with a sprinkling of sugar before adding the sauce deepens the browning.
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Dinner 3: Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts and Boiled Carrots
Game Plan: Prep the chicken and place it in the oven. While the chicken roasts, prep the carrots. Boil the carrots when you start browning the chicken.
For Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts with crispy, brown skin and juicy meat, we use a technique called reverse searing. We start by applying salt under the skin to season the chicken and help it retain moisture. Then, we gently roast the breasts at 325 degrees, which minimizes moisture loss and results in even cooking. The oven time also dries the skin, so that a quick sear in a hot skillet is all that is required for a crackly, burnished finish. For our Boiled Carrots with Lemon and Chives, we start by cutting the carrots into even pieces so they cook at the same rate. We then boil them in 2 cups of well-salted water, which not only seasons them but also helps to retain some of their natural sugars. After draining, we add a little butter for richness and some lemon juice for brightness.
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