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: Stuffed Pork Chops and Boiled Carrots
Game Plan: Prep and cook the pork chops. While the pork is in the oven, prep the carrots. Boil the carrots while the pork rests.
Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Spinach and Fontina Stuffing start with rib chops, which have an unbroken eye of meat into which a wide pocket can be cut with a sharp paring knife. We fill the pocket with a fontina, spinach, and pine nut stuffing to add moisture, fat, and assertive flavors to the lean, mild pork. For Boiled Carrots with Lemon and Chives, we cook the carrots 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 lemon juice for brightness.
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Dinner 2: Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Steamed Rice
Game Plan: Toss the shrimp with the rice wine and salt. While the shrimp stands, prep the remaining ingredients for the dish. As the oil for the shrimp heats, start cooking the rice. Once the lid is on the rice (step 3), fry the shrimp, monitoring the rice for doneness.
Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp features crunchy fried shell-on shrimp with a spicy, sweet, and savory coating. To keep the shrimp shells crispy and crunchy rather than tough, we use relatively small shrimp (31 to 40 per pound), which have thinner shells than large shrimp, and cook them in small batches in very hot oil. For our Steamed White Rice, we first rinse the grains to remove some of their surface starch. We then start cooking the rice in boiling water, which provides enough agitation to release the remaining starch, resulting in just the right amount of stickiness.
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Dinner 3: Indoor Pulled Chicken and Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw
Game Plan: Start by preparing the pulled chicken. While the chicken braises, prep the slaw and make the dressing. Toss the slaw before completing the chicken (step 4).
Indoor Pulled Chicken with Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce mimics the flavor and texture of outdoor slow-smoked pulled chicken in just a fraction of the time. We braise boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a mixture of chicken broth, salt, sugar, molasses, gelatin, and liquid smoke, then shred the meat and mix it with a tangy barbecue sauce. Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw with Red Bell Pepper offers a more tender, delicate texture and a sweeter flavor than traditional green cabbage slaw. To avoid a bland, watered-down salad, 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.