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: Farrotto and Romaine and Watercress Salad
Game Plan: Start cooking the farrotto through step 4. As the farro cooks, finish any prep for the farrotto and prepare the salad ingredients. Toss the salad right before serving.
The biggest challenge to making a satisfying Farrotto with Pancetta, Asparagus, and Peas is achieving the proper texture. We found that cracking about half the farro in a blender was the key to freeing enough starch from the grains to create a creamy, risotto-like consistency. Adding most of the liquid up front and cooking the farrotto in a lidded Dutch oven helps the grains cook evenly and avoids constant stirring. Romaine and Watercress Salad with Apple and Kohlrabi combines crisp romaine lettuce with spicy, tender watercress. Thinly sliced kohlrabi and sweet apple combine cohesively with the salad greens and provide complexity.
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Dinner 2: Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts and Boiled Potatoes
Game Plan: Start by brining the chicken and heating the oven. Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients for the chicken and potatoes. Start boiling the potatoes once the browned chicken is transferred to the oven. Finish the potatoes while the sage-vermouth sauce simmers.
Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Sage-Vermouth Sauce calls for browning the chicken in a skillet and finishing it in a hot oven. The result is moist and tender chicken with crisp skin. After cooking the chicken, we use the caramelized drippings, or fond, left in the pan to make a quick and flavorful sauce. We pair the chicken with a simple dish of Boiled Potatoes with Butter and Chives. We like to cook whole potatoes that are less than 2½ inches in diameter since larger spuds tend to get mushy right under the skin by the time the center is cooked. We boil the potatoes skin-on in well-salted water to highlight their earthy taste.
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Dinner 3: Spice-Rubbed Snapper and Coconut Rice
Game Plan: Start by salting the fish (step 1). While the fish sits, cook the rice, using the covered cooking time to prep the spice rub. Once the rice has been removed from the heat, broil the fish.
Broiled Spice-Rubbed Snapper is an easy, yet flavorful, way to cook fish. To maximize the flavor of the spice rub, we hydrate ancho chile powder, ground coriander, granulated garlic, dried oregano, and cayenne and black peppers in a couple tablespoons of boiling water to bring out their water-soluble flavors. Then we add oil, which, when heated under the broiler, brings out the oil-soluble flavors. Arroz Con Titoté (Colombian Coconut Rice) is similar to a classic pilaf, but it uses coconut oil rather than olive oil. We boil pure coconut milk until the water evaporates, leaving the fat behind. After browning the particles of coconut, we add the rice and just enough water to hydrate and gel the starches in the rice, which ensures that the cooked grains will be light and fluffy. We finish with a spritz of lime juice.