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Dinner This Week: Sesame-Crusted Salmon 

This week’s menus include Sesame-Crusted Salmon, Italian Sausage with Grapes and Balsamic Vinegar, and  Roasted Cornish Game Hens 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.

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Dinner 1: Sesame-Crusted Salmon and Quinoa Pilaf

Sesame SalmonQuinoa

Game Plan: Start by prepping and cooking the quinoa. Once the quinoa is simmering, prep and cook the salmon. If the quinoa pilaf is done before the salmon, set it aside and stir in the scallions, vinegar, and mirin just before serving.

For Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Lemon and Ginger, we brine the fillets to ensure that each piece is well seasoned and remains moist after cooking. We also brine and toast the sesame to bring out their flavor. Finally, we use tahini paste combined with citrus juice to glue the sesame seeds to the fillets. To develop nuttiness in our Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitakes, Edamame, and Ginger, we toast the grains in a dry skillet before adding liquid. We then season the pilaf with boldly flavored ingredients such as scallions, mirin, and ginger.

Printable Shopping Lists: Sesame-Crusted Salmon and Quinoa Pilaf

Dinner 2: Italian Sausage with Grapes and Creamy Polenta

Sausage and GrapesPolenta

Game Plan: Start preparing the polenta. Once the cornmeal has been added to the water and the heat reduced, start the sausage. By the time the polenta is fully cooked, the sausages will be ready to serve. (If the sausages are done early, cover the skillet and rewarm them before serving.)

Italian Sausage with Grapes and Balsamic Vinegar is a great demonstration of the affinity that pork and fruit have for each other. Taking inspiration from a potsticker cooking method, we use a combination of sautéing and steaming to produce sausages that are nicely browned while still moist and juicy. For the sauce, we caramelize seedless red grapes and thinly sliced onion to create a sweet but complex base. White wine and balsamic vinegar lend complementary acidity. For our Creamy Parmesan Polenta, we use coarse-ground, degerminated cornmeal, which provides a soft but hearty texture and nutty flavor. A pinch of baking soda cuts the cooking time in half and eliminates the need for stirring.

Printable Shopping Lists: Italian Sausage with Grapes and Creamy Polenta

Dinner 3: Roasted Game Hens and Steamed Kale

Game Henskale

Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Place the hens in the oven. Right before broiling the hens (step 6), start steaming the kale. Let the hens rest while the kale finishes. Note: The hens can be cooked without air-drying, but if you have the time, we recommend this step.

To achieve crisp skin on our Roasted Cornish Game Hens, we rub the birds with baking powder and salt, air-dry them, and poke holes in the skin to allow fat to drain away. We then roast them on a hot baking sheet to jump-start the cooking before broiling them for great browning. Our Pan-Steamed Kale with Raisins and Almonds starts by cooking the greens in a small amount of chicken broth. Once the kale is just tender, we remove the lid and allow excess liquid to evaporate, then briefly sauté the greens with a few flavorings that accent but don't overpower its earthiness.

Printable Shopping Lists: Roasted Game Hens and Steamed Kale

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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.