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: One-Hour Broiled Chicken with Boiled Carrots
Game Plan: Start cooking the chicken, using any unattended cooking time to prep the carrots. Cook the carrots while the chicken rests in step 4. Keep the carrots warm while finishing the sauce for the chicken.
For One-Hour Broiled Chicken and Pan Sauce, we butterfly the chicken to speed up cooking and to keep it flat so that it cooks evenly under the intense direct heat. A preheated skillet jump-starts the cooking of the leg quarters, and starting that skillet under a cold broiler slows down the cooking of the breasts, allowing the white meat to finish cooking at the same time as the dark meat. Boiled Carrots with Mint and Paprika cook in just 2 cups of well-salted water, which not only adds seasoning but the small amount of liquid also helps the carrots retain some of their natural sugars as well as helps them cook faster. After draining, we add a little butter for richness and some sherry vinegar for brightness.
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Dinner 2: Black Bean Burgers and Barbecue Kettle Potato Chips
Game Plan: Start by drying the beans (step 1). Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients for the burgers. Assemble and refrigerate the burger mixture (step 3). While mixture rests, prep and fry the chips. Once the chips are done, form and cook the burgers.
For great-tasting, cohesive Black Bean Burgers, we use finely ground tortilla chips as a binder. Eggs and flour help to hold the burger mix together. To keep the preparation simple, we add no-cook seasonings that bolster the flavor of the burgers. Letting the mixture stand for an hour gives the starches time to soak up moisture from the egg, so the patties are easier to shape. To produce deeply crunchy Barbecue Kettle Potato Chips, we start by cutting russet potatoes into substantial 1/16-inch-thick slices. Frying them in moderately hot oil ensures that they cook up crunchy—not hard or delicate. Initially heating the oil to a relatively hot 375 degrees quickly dries out the potatoes' exterior starches so they are less sticky; stirring them frequently also prevents them from fusing together.
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Dinner 3: Pork Medallions and Roasted Butternut Squash
Game Plan: Start by prepping the squash and putting it in the oven to roast. Once the baking sheet with the squash has been rotated, prepare the pork.
Our recipe for Thick-Cut Pork Tenderloin Medallions starts with cutting tenderloins into 1½-inch-thick pieces and tying them to create neat cylindrical packages that can be easily seared on all sides. The searing process has the extra benefit of producing enough fond to create an easy, flavorful pan sauce. For Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Maple, we peel off not only the tough outer skin but also the fibrous layer of white flesh just beneath, ensuring supremely tender squash. To encourage the squash slices to caramelize, we roast them in a 425-degree oven on the lowest rack and use an extended baking time to evaporate the water in the slices. Melted butter instead of oil promotes the flavorful Maillard reaction. Finally, a topping of pecans and goat cheese add crunch and creaminess.