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: Fried Brown Rice with Pork and Napa Cabbage Slaw
Game Plan: Start by putting the rice on to boil. As the rice cooks, prep the remaining ingredients for the fried rice and slaw. Once the rice is drained, mix the slaw and allow it to sit as you prepare the fried rice.
For our Fried Brown Rice with Pork and Shrimp, brown rice stands in for the more conventional white rice. The bran layer keeps the grains from clumping, so we can use freshly cooked rice instead of fussing with the need for leftovers as white rice requires. Additionally, the bran acts as a nonstick coating on each grain, so brown rice requires far less oil in the frying stage. Napa Cabbage Slaw 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: Thai Chicken Curry and Sticky Rice
Game Plan: The rice for this pairing needs to soak for 4 to 8 hours, so start it in the morning. When you are ready to cook, begin by steaming the rice. As it steams, prepare the curry. The two dishes will be done at about the same time.
Our Thai Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Peanuts is a massaman-style curry known for its depth and warm spices, but it's not spicy. For a flavorful curry paste, we start with the traditional shallots, ginger, and garlic and add dried New Mexican chiles, five-spice powder, and ground cumin, which act as stand-ins for the customary but hard-to-track-down Thai spices and chiles. We sauté the paste to further intensify its flavors before stirring in coconut milk and chicken broth. We then simmer potatoes, onion, chicken, and peanuts in the broth until tender. Traditionally, Thai-Style Sticky Rice is cooked in a bamboo basket set over an hourglass-shaped aluminum pot, which allows the rice to steam on all sides. We mimic that setup with a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh strainer set over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
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Dinner 3: Sicilian Fish Stew and Cheesy Garlic Bread
Game Plan: Prep and cook the fish stew through step 2, using the unattended simmering time to prep the garlic bread (step 1). Once the fish is added to the stew, bake the garlic bread.
For our Sicilian Fish Stew base, a ratio of 3 parts canned diced tomatoes to 2 parts fish stock strikes the perfect balance between the briny taste of the sea and the sweet acidity of tomatoes. Chunks of hearty swordfish stand up to the bold flavors, and finishes of fresh mint and toasted pine nuts add texture, color, and bursts of freshness. Parmesan and Asiago Cheese Garlic Bread starts with a generous amount of toasted garlic: Toasting helps to mellow the harshness and highlight the rich, sweet, nutty flavor of the allium. We use butter and cheese sparingly to give the bread ample richness and complexity without marring its texture or interfering with the garlic’s flavor.