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Volume 85

Dinner This Week: Smashed Burgers

By Keith Dresser Published

This week’s menus include Smashed Burgers, Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas with Pepper Jack Cheese, and Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts 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: Smashed Burger and French Fries

Smashed Burgers share the same thin, verging-on-well-done profile as typical fast-food burgers, but their big selling point is an ultrabrown, crispy crust. We use commercial ground beef instead of grinding our own because the former is ground finer and thus exposes more myosin, a sticky meat protein that helps the patties hold together when they are smashed. Using a small saucepan to press straight down on the meat ensures that it spreads and sticks uniformly to the skillet (instead of shrinking as it is cooked), which helps guarantee deep browning. 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. 

Printable Shopping Lists: Smashed Burger and French Fries

Equipment Review Clip-On Probe Thermometers for Meat, Deep Frying, and Candy Making

We made French fries, fried chicken, and caramel sauce, evaluating four thermometers for accuracy, functionality, and durability.

Dinner 2: Corn and Bean Quesadillas with Quinoa Pilaf

Our Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas with Pepper Jack Cheese make for a quick, yet satisfying, meal. We start by lightly toasting tortillas in a dry skillet; we then fill them with cheese, frozen corn, and canned beans. We finish the quesadillas by lightly coating the exteriors with oil and returning them to the skillet until they are well browned and crisp. To develop nuttiness in our Quinoa Pilaf with Chipotle, Queso Fresco, and Peanuts, we toast the grains in a dry skillet before adding liquid. We then season the pilaf with boldly flavored chipotle chiles and cumin.

Printable Shopping Lists: Corn and Bean Quesadillas and Quinoa Pilaf

Equipment Review Kitchen Tongs

Which pair offers the best precision and comfort?

Dinner 3: Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts and Pan-Steamed Broccolini

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cook quickly, but they’re also notoriously dry and bland. To keep our Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts moist (and well-seasoned), we salt them and then gently parcook them in a low oven. Right before serving, we coat them in a protective layer of oil and cornstarch and sear them in a hot skillet to develop a crisp crust. The tender florets of broccolini cook more quickly than its thicker stems, resulting in overcooked florets by the time the stalks become crisp-tender. For Pan-Steamed Broccolini, we solve this problem by splitting the thicker stems lengthwise so that they are the same size as the thinner ones, allowing for even cooking along the length of the vegetable.

Printable Shopping ListsPan-Seared Chicken Breasts and Pan-Steamed Broccolini


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.