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Dinner This Week: Kung Pao Chicken

By Keith Dresser Published

This week’s menus include Kung Pao Chicken, Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts, and Shrimp Scampi for dinner in about an hour.

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: Kung Pao Chicken and Smashed Cucumbers

To produce the requisite tingly, spicy flavor in our Gōngbǎo Jīdīng (Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken), we use toasted crushed Sichuan peppercorns and arbol chiles that we halve lengthwise to expose their interiors. We prefer to use chicken thighs with this dish, but boneless, skinless chicken breasts will also work. We pair the bold stir-fry with a cooling dish of Pai Huang Gua (Smashed Cucumbers). English cucumbers, which are nearly seedless and have thin, crisp skins, are best in this dish, but regular cucumbers can be substituted. They will need to peeled and seeded before being smashed.

Printable Shopping Lists: Kung Pao Chicken and Smashed Cucumbers


 

Equipment Review The Best Silicone Spatulas

A spatula should feel like an extension of your arm, nimbly stirring, scraping, and folding any food you put in its path. Why is a good one so hard to find?

Dinner 2: Roasted Chicken Breasts and Sautéed Swiss Chard

Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts start with an application of salt under the skin to season the meat and help it stay juicy. Gently roasting the chicken at 325 degrees minimizes moisture loss and results in even cooking. This method can also be used to cook 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Bring them to 170 to 175 degrees in step 1. The ingredients in Sautéed Swiss Chard with Currants and Pine Nuts can be altered to suit what you have on hand: Raisins or dried cranberries can be used in place of the currants and almonds or pistachios can be substituted for the pine nuts.

Printable Shopping Lists: Roasted Chicken Breasts and Sautéed Swiss Chard


 

Equipment Review Petty and Utility Knives

With a blade that’s halfway between that of a chef’s knife and that of a paring knife, a petty knife or utility knife is the perfect blade for medium-size kitchen prep tasks. Which is best?

Dinner 3: Shrimp Scampi and Broiled Asparagus

We like to use jumbo (16/20) shrimp in our Shrimp Scampi recipe, but extra-large (21/25) shrimp can be swapped in. In a pinch, large (26/30) shrimp can also be used; just be careful not to overcook them. One-quarter teaspoon of dried thyme can be substituted for the fresh sprigs. We prefer thin spears for Simple Broiled Asparagus, but thicker sizes can be used; just make sure to extend the cooking time a bit. Serve the asparagus with a squeeze of lemon or drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette. 

Printable Shopping Lists: Shrimp Scampi and Broiled Asparagus


View more weeknight dinner ideas below, or check out all of the Dinner This Week menus.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.