comscore Sheet pans transform weeknight cooking | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Sheet pans transform weeknight cooking


    Quarter-size sheet pans are used to prepare a meal of pork chops and Brussels Sprouts. Roasting with two pans at once provides more flexibility in cooking ingredients to the right doneness.

Once upon a time, way back in the annals of home cooking, there was an era before sheet-pan suppers.

In that dark age, even well-equipped kitchens lacked so much as a single professional sheet pan, let alone the two or three deemed indispensable by many of us today.

Sure, there were deep-sided roasting pans, cookie sheets, and narrow, thin-gauge jellyroll pans — all perfect for their designated purposes.

But none has the same functionality and conve­nience as the humble, heavy-duty, 13-by-18-inch rimmed sheet pan. Not only can you use it to cook an entire meal for four in your oven all at once, it can also help you heat up a dozen bagels simultaneously. It has enough room to cradle your Thanksgiving turkey, and, in a pinch, it can double as a cookie sheet.

However, as useful as regular sheet pans are, their capaciousness can be unwieldy when you’re dealing with just a halved acorn squash or that quartet of trout fillets you’re planning for dinner tonight. Even worse, sheet pans can also be too big to fit into the dishwasher, especially if you’ve used more than one.

And this is why I’ve made room for yet one more tool in my already overstuffed kitchen cabinets. For home cooks everywhere, it’s time to get acquainted with the adorable and versatile quarter-sheet pan.

Measuring about 9-by-12 inches, it’s the helpful little sibling of your standard-size sheet pans. I can fit four in my oven all at once, which makes them highly flexible when you want to cook several things at the same time. Then I can toss them into the dishwasher, where they scarcely take up more room than my plates.

For example, what if you wanted to cook up a wintry dish of paprika-rubbed chicken legs, potatoes and turnips in the oven all at the same time? If you arranged all those ingredients together on one large pan, you’d be hard pressed to get the timing just right so the vegetables and chicken all come out evenly cooked and gorgeously caramelized.

Separating the chicken and vegetables onto two small pans, however, gives you a lot more control. You can remove each pan from the oven exactly when its contents are perfectly done, without worrying about over- or undercooking.

Here, it means pulling out the chicken and letting it rest while cranking up the oven to crisp the potatoes and turnips. You’ll have juicy chicken, crunchy potatoes, and a lot less stress.

The same logic can be applied to a sheet-pan supper of cumin-rubbed pork chops with Brussels sprouts and crispy sage leaves. While the ingredients would all taste great cooked together on one large sheet pan — the rendering pork fat mingling gorgeously with the sprouts and sage — it would automatically make the vegetables unfit for any vegetarians at your table. And keeping the meat away from the vegetables encourages the porky edges to crisp, which is always a good thing in a chop.

If you can find the space to store a few of these quarter-sheet pans (maybe stacked inside your larger sheet pans), buying them isn’t at all expensive. They cost around $10 each and aren’t hard to find (Nordic Ware is a common brand, sold at Target). Start with two, and if you find yourself reaching for them often, you can always pick up a couple more.

Whether you use big pans or small, once you immerse yourself in the tasty, convenient world of sheet-pan suppers, you won’t want to stop.


By Melissa Clark

  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 large or 2 medium turnips or daikon (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons duck fat, melted (or olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to sprinkle cucumbers
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 small or 1 large cucumber, peeled if desired, thinly sliced crosswise and kept refrigerated
  • Chopped dill or parsley, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)
  • >> Marinade:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked hot Spanish paprika (pimenton)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated or minced

In a medium bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Place chicken on a quarter-size rimmed sheet pan (or use a regular rimmed sheet pan) and rub chicken all over with marinade. Cover and let rest at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss potatoes, turnips, duck fat, salt and pepper together on another sheet pan.

Slide both baking pans into oven. Roast chicken until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Toss vegetables after 15 minutes. Remove chicken from oven; turn up heat to 500 degrees and continue cooking vegetables until golden brown, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Place chilled cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and herbs. Serve with chicken and vegetables, garnished with herbs. Pass cucumbers and sour cream (if using) at the table. Serves 4.


By Melissa Clark

  • 2 large bone-in pork chops, about 1-1/2 inches thick (about 1-3/4 pounds total)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through the stem
  • 1/4 cup whole sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • >> Marinade:
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced

In a large bowl, combine marinade ingredients until mixture resembles wet sand. Smear mixture all over pork and let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, then refrigerate, covered, up to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts and sage leaves with oil and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Spread out on a quarter-size rimmed baking sheet (or in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish) and place in the oven. Place pork on a second quarter-size rimmed baking sheet (or use a regular rimmed baking sheet) and place in the oven along with the sprouts.

Roast pork and sprouts for 15 minutes. Flip the chops over and give the sprouts a stir, and continue roasting until the pork is cooked through (135 degrees for medium-rare) and the sprouts are browned and tender, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Let pork rest 5 minutes before slicing off the bone as you would a steak. Serve pork and sprouts together, with lemon wedges. Serves 3 to 4.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

See the newest food hot spots! Sign up for the CRAVE email newsletter.

Scroll Up