The new one-pot meal: Sheet pan suppers

Instead of a pot, use a large, shallow baking tray and cook the whole meal in one go.

Ease of preparation is a big selling point for home cooks, which explains our love of slow cooker dinners and one pot meals.

Today’s version of that quick and easy kitchen saviour is the sheet pan supper: all the ingredients (protein, vegetables and starch) are placed together on a sturdy, rimmed baking sheet, put in the oven, and a short time later, dinner is served.

The technique has been turning up everywhere: New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark shared a recipe and video last February; Bon Appetit and Rachael Ray magazines featured sheet pan recipe spreads in recent months; and last fall, a new book came out, Sheet Pan Suppers.

Author Molly Gilbert credits the popularity of this quick, easy cooking method to a simple fact: “I don’t think a lot of people have time to cook.”

Gilbert adds: “You don’t have to use four pots. You don’t have to wash as many dishes. For busy people with families, it’s a no-brainer.”

There are a few things to remember:

– A rimmed jelly roll pan or cookie sheet is not the same as a sturdy half sheet pan, which can be found at restaurant supply and kitchenware stores for as low as US$8 apiece.

– Line the pan with aluminium foil or parchment paper to make cleanup a breeze.

– Make sure all ingredients are a consistent size. You want potatoes and vegetables to be uniform, chicken breasts or pork chops to be the same thickness. Otherwise, you will be constantly checking to see if that larger piece of protein is finished cooking while the rest of the meal is burning. (I learned the hard way while testing these recipes.)

“You don’t want to babysit this kind of thing, so be mindful when you are prepping,” advises Nina Elder, executive food editor at Rachael Ray magazine.

– Place ingredients in a single layer and don’t crowd them. Air circulation is key to achieving perfectly roasted meats, caramelized vegetables and browned potatoes.

“You don’t want things to steam,” Elder says. “You want them to roast.”

If you have too many ingredients, Elder suggests placing the remaining ingredients on a second sheet pan.

And you will likely have more than one sheet pan because this cooking method is something to love.

NEXT PAGE: Recipe for pork chops

Roasted Pork Chops With Green Beans And Potatoes
Adapted from the January/February issue of Rachael Ray magazine.

Makes 4 servings

6 tbsp olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch (2.5cm) thick
1 (250g) bag trimmed French green beans or haricots verts
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 675g), cut into wedges
1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 250°C.

Mix 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, paprika and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add pork chops and turn to coat.

Toss green beans, potatoes and red pepper with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread in an even layer. Nestle pork chops among the vegetables.

Roast, turning the pork chops once, until the vegetables are tender and the chops are just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

NEXT PAGE: Recipe for chicken and baby broccoli

Quick Chicken And Baby Broccoli With Spicy Peanut Sauce
Our recipe tester found that 2 large crowns of broccoli, cut into thin pieces, can be substituted for the broccolini. If you cannot find thin-cut chicken breasts, cut breasts into two pieces and pound thin with a meat mallet between two pieces of wax paper or plastic. You want all the chicken pieces to be about the same thickness. Adapted from Sheet Pan Suppers, by Molly Gilbert (Workman, 2014).

Makes 4 servings

Olive oil cooking spray (optional)
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha sauce (or other hot chilli sauce)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 bunches broccolini (450g total)
4 to 6 thin-cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts or cutlets (450-675g total)

Preheat oven to broil, with a rack 10cm from the heat. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or mist it with cooking spray.

Use a food processor or whisk together in a medium bowl to combine the brown sugar, peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, vinegar, water and lime juice. Once smooth, set aside 1/4 cup of peanut sauce for serving.

Toss broccolini and chicken with remaining peanut sauce in a large bowl until thickly coated. Arrange in a tight single layer on the prepared pan. Broil, keeping a close eye to prevent burning, and flipping the chicken halfway through, until the chicken is just cooked through, the broccolini is well charred and the sauce is bubbly and deeply browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Serve chicken and broccolini hot from the oven with the reserved dipping sauce alongside. – The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C)/Tribune News Service

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