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Volume 137

Dinner This Week: Congee

By Keith Dresser Published

This week’s menus include Congee with Stir-Fried Ground Pork, Cast Iron Steaks with Herb Butter, and Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets 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: Congee with Stir-Fried Ground Pork and Skillet-Roasted Broccoli

Congee (Chinese Rice Porridge) with Stir-Fried Ground Pork features soft, barely intact grains gently bound by their silky, viscous cooking liquid; the result should be fluid but thick and creamy enough to suspend any toppings. Our formula starts with a 13:1 ratio of liquid to long-grain white rice, which produces an appropriately loose porridge. We simmer the rice vigorously to encourage the grains to break down in about 45 minutes. Skillet-Roasted Broccoli yields deeply browned broccoli with a nutty flavor and a hint of crisp texture. To make it quickly on the stovetop, we cut broccoli crowns into wedges to create flat sides that sit flush with the surface of the skillet. We then steam the broccoli initially to soften it before browning.

Printable Shopping Lists: Congee with Stir-Fried Ground Pork and Skillet-Roasted Broccoli

Equipment Review Best Chef's Knives

One chef’s knife has been a champ in our kitchen for nearly two decades. Can any other blade come close to offering what it does—and at a bargain price?

Dinner 2: Cast Iron Steaks and Fork-Mashed Potatoes

Our recipe for Cast Iron Steaks with Herb Butter uses the heat-retention properties of cast iron to help develop a perfect sear. Heating the skillet in the oven, rather than on the stovetop, ensures even heat distribution. Flipping the steaks every two minutes leads to a shorter cooking time and reduces the gray band of dry, overcooked meat just beneath the surface of the crust. Fork-Mashed Potatoes with Herbs starts by simmering thin-skinned, waxy baby potatoes in water seasoned with salt, fresh thyme sprigs, and garlic. After draining, we use a fork to break the potatoes into rough, savory chunks. 

Printable Shopping Lists: Cast Iron Steak with Fork-Mashed Potatoes

Equipment Review 12-Inch Enameled Cast-Iron Skillets

Cheap and tough, a cast-iron skillet is a kitchen workhorse, but the upkeep makes some cooks balk. Could enameled cast-iron pans, which need no special care, top the classic?

Dinner 3: Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets and Cucumber Salad

For our Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets, we ditch the usual homemade bread crumbs in favor of drier, crunchier panko. For a more delicate crust, we omit the flour in the breading process. To know when the frying oil is at just the right temperature, we add a pinch of panko to the skillet with the oil. When the crumbs turn golden brown, it's time to start frying. To ensure good crunch in our Sesame Lemon Cucumber Salad, we toss sliced cucumbers with salt and put a weight on top of them to maximize the amount of water they shed. A bright dressing of rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil is the perfect foil to the crisp cucumbers.

Printable Shopping ListsCrispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets and Sesame Lemon Cucumber Salad


To view more quick weeknight dinner ideas, check out the rest of the Dinner This Week series.

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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.