My Top 10 Skillet Dinners

September 18th, 2012 · 15 Comments · Dinner, Quick

Even before I was given a shiny new 12-inch All-Clad stainless skillet for my birthday last year, which makes me sigh in apprecation every time I pull it out of the pot drawer, there was always a special place in my heart for the Skillet Dinner. Once I got the formula down for it…

[Add fat to pan; brown meat; remove meat; add onions and other vegetables; return meat to pan with liquid; simmer til meat is cooked]

…there seemed to be no end to the combinations I could churn out for a quick one-pot family dinner that was made for improvising. Here are my top 10 favorites. I’m always looking for more, so feel free to suggest your own.

1. Chicken with Artichokes (Pictured above) A classic. It’s the first dinner I think of when I spy my bag of frozen artichokes in the freezer. It’s on the line-up this week.

2. Fried Rice with Pork or Shrimp - You need leftover rice for this one (and the next) or you just need to pick up the pre-cooked rice in the freezer section of Trader Joe’s.

3. Crispy Rice Omelet with Soy Sauce - Good vegetarian option and takes 10 minutes.

4. Chicken with Lemon-Butter-Wine Sauce - The full dinner is not cooked all at once, but just add some  spinach or kale to the pan after you’ve finished with the chicken and wine and butter and you’ve got yourself a meal.

5. Pan-fried Scallops I’ve heard from so many of you on this one — you seem to especially love it when served with the corn-bacon hash. This is why it lives both on the blog and in the book.

6. Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Kale - A quickened Bugiali recipe that I really need to make more often. So simple and the kale turns out silky and sweet — which is just right for my kids.

7. Beef with Broccoli - A recipe developed by my friend and former Gourmet kitchen staffer Melissa Roberts. Good all year long, but great when broccoli is in season.

8. Cornmeal-crusted Chicken with Soy-Lime Sauce OK, fine, this isn’t all done in one skillet, but it’s so quick and satisfying that tossing together a salad on the side will not feel like extra work.

9. Chicken with Spinach and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette How could this be bad? And you don’t have to feel so guilty about the bacon because remember, a little goes a looong way.

10. Shrimp with Feta - We made this once a week in the early days of parenting. My daughters are currently in an anti-feta phase which makes things difficult, but I’m thinking they need to just suck it up and deal.

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15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amanda // Sep 18, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I really appreciate that you taught this me this secret formula because I had read it probably 1,0o0 times in magazines and books, but it never clicked till you broke it down so simply.
    That was a forehead smack moment for me.

    Honestly, my favorite skillet meal is the one you had readers figure out by looking at the ingredients in the picture. Bacon+Brussel Sprouts+Chicken… oh my!

    http://www.dinneralovestory.com/wax-on-wax-off-the-kitchen-edition/

    And now I want to change what I have on the menu for tonight to accommodate this recipe!

  • 2 Jenny // Sep 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Amanda – I remember how much you liked that post! Love the image of you smacking your forehead. And it makes me think that number 10 here should’ve been: Mystery Skillet Dinner: Whatever meat, vegetable, and simmering liquid (broth, wine, tomato products) you have in the fridge. Therein lies the learning!

  • 3 ruth // Sep 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    i got your book out from the library a week or so ago and must say, i’ve been reading it like a novel (haha, yes even before bed!) and picking recipes here and there. everything we’ve made so far has been DELISH (our fave was shrimp with feta). i’m definitely going to purchase a copy (especially since i may or may not have spilled some feta on the book itself…shhhhh). also, i’m engaged and i’m so so SO excited to have a whole set of all clad pans at the top of my registry list. wow, you really know you’re an adult when you get excited about cookware…LOL. :-)

  • 4 Eileen // Sep 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    That chicken with artichokes sounds so good! Maybe I will make a single version for lunch this week. :)

  • 5 The Literate Chef // Sep 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Great ideas! I’ve done skillet dishes but never thought about them as such and your formula is right on.

  • 6 jenny // Sep 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks Ruth! Glad you’ve found the book to be a keeper. I love it when newlyweds discover it — hopefully it will just get better as the two of you evolve together as cooks.

  • 7 Olivia // Sep 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Love the formula! I also love how your dinners have evolved– it’s hard to imagine what cooking for three will be like one day, but your recipes help!

  • 8 Meagan // Sep 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Got home at 5 with nary a thought in my head about dinner, checked this post, liked the look of the soy-lime chicken (we actually had all the ingredients) …and oh my goodness, we just finished dinner. All four of us are happy & full. I made it with broccoli and sesame noodles (just to up the kid happiness factor). Never doubt this website is a force for good in the world!

  • 9 Wholesome Hedonist // Sep 18, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve never done a skillet meal before. I’m all about the one pot meals – recently I’ve been all about the Beet Pesto Rotini and Rosemary Marmalade Chicken I posted on my site – but never thought of skillet meals. Brilliant! I’ll give these a whirl.

  • 10 Andree // Sep 19, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Woo Hoo! This is just what I need! Soon to embark on cooking everyday, these recipes look scrumptious and easy! Will keep you posted on my favs! Thank you!!!

  • 11 MamaBeeGirl // Sep 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I love love love (what’s not to love dinner in one pan?) skillet dinners. I follow the same formula, but if I don’t have any chicken/beef/pork in my fridge, I substitute shelf stable gnocchi. Same recipe – saute gnocchi in a tablespoon of olive oil until browned, (has to be the shelf stable one, not the boiling kind) remove from pan, add onions, pancetta, tomatoes, beans, spinach (or whatever else is on hand) and then add the gnocchi back into the pan when they are done. Sprinkle the top with cheese. Perfection every time.

  • 12 erinn johnson // Sep 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    It is so nice having nice pots and pans. I think they inspire.

    Thanks for all of the great skillet dinner ideas. I love skillet dinners, they seem easy but fancy at the same time. Have you ever tried skillet lasagna? That is a hit in our house.

  • 13 Kaely // Sep 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Oh, I love skillet meals. I use your formula sometimes, but I also like to do pasta dishes in the skillet. Baked ziti, tuna casserole, and cheesy chili mac are my favorite skillet dinners (all from Cooks Illustrated skillet cookbook)

  • 14 Fraser // Sep 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    So that kale with the pork chops? My 1.3 year old couldn’t stop eating it, and my husband and I almost fought over the leftovers. Amazing. Double it if you’re trying the recipe for the first time.

  • 15 Orgreenic // Oct 9, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Good read. Having a good skillet dinner once in a while seems to be a good addition in the weekly menu. Thanks for sharing.

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