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: Sautéed Chicken Cutlets and Pan-Steamed Asparagus
Game Plan: Both of these recipes cook quickly, so prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking. After transferring the chicken to the oven to keep warm, start making the sauce. Steam the asparagus while the sauce reduces.
Sautéed Chicken Cutlets with Shallot and White Wine Sauce features juicy, ultrathin chicken paired with a sauce that complements, rather than overpowers, the delicate meat. For evenly sized cutlets, we take a two-step approach: We halve chicken breasts horizontally before pounding them to an even thickness under plastic wrap. This ensures that they cook at the same rate and turn out moist, tender, and juicy. Pan-Steamed Asparagus with Garlic preserves the fresh, sweet, grassy flavor of the vegetable and produces a crisp-tender texture. We steam the asparagus in a small amount of water in a skillet to which we also add butter, salt, and garlic. Next, we allow the water to evaporate, leaving the asparagus glossed with garlicky butter.
The Best 12-Inch Stainless-Steel SkilletsOur longtime favorite 12-inch pan by All-Clad faces new competition. Is it still the best choice?
Dinner 2: Easy Salmon Cakes and Sautéed Peas with Fennel
Game Plan: Both recipes call for a 12-inch skillet. If you only have one traditional skillet, a nonstick or cast-iron skillet can be used to cook the salmon cakes. First, mix and shape the cakes. Next, start cooking the peas. Once the fennel is softened (step 1), fry the salmon cakes. While the cakes brown, finish the peas.
For our Easy Salmon Cakes, we turn to the food processor. Pulsing small pieces of salmon allows for more even chopping and results in small, discrete pieces of fish. We also ditch the somewhat messy egg and flour steps of the breading process. Instead, we simply coat the cakes with panko bread crumbs, which we also use to bind the fish mixture. Frozen peas have already been blanched, so the key to good Sautéed Peas with Fennel is to avoid overcooking. Just five minutes of simmering is all that is needed to produce bright, tender green peas. Switching from a saucepan to a skillet allows the peas to heat more quickly and evenly over the larger surface, further reducing the cooking time.
Clip-On Probe Thermometers for Meat, Deep Frying, and Candy MakingWe made French fries, fried chicken, and caramel sauce, evaluating four thermometers for accuracy, functionality, and durability.
Dinner 3: Juicy Pub-Style Burgers and Easier French Fries
Game Plan: Start by freezing the meat for the burgers. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes. Grind, form, and refrigerate the patties (steps 2 and 3). Once the French-fry oil has reached a rolling boil, start searing the burgers, monitoring the fries as they cook.
Our Juicy Pub-Style Burgers start with flavorful sirloin tips that we coarsely grind in a food processor. Melted butter ensures juiciness and encourages browning. Loosely mixing the beef and gently forming the patties helps prevent overworking the meat, which can toughen burgers. Searing in a superhot skillet and then finishing in a low-heat oven yields a crispy, well-browned crust and a juicy center. Our Easier French Fries recipe uses a modest amount of oil and doesn't call for double frying. We start the potatoes in cold oil and fry them over high heat until browned. Low-starch Yukon Golds make for a crisp exterior and a creamy interior.