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Sheet pan suppers offer cooks a lifeline during busy times

Sheet pan suppers offer cooks a lifeline during busy times

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Sheet-pan suppers have become very popular in recent years for good reason — they are great no-fuss recipes for time-pressed cooks. Now Cathy Erway, a James Beard Award-winning food writer, has written “Sheet Pan Chicken” ($19, Ten Speed Press), offering 50 ideas for cooking America’s favorite poultry in the oven.

As Erway says in the book’s introduction, a sheet pan is “the no-nonsense industrial workhouse of the home kitchen.” It was here long before that latest fancy appliance you bought, and it will be here long after.

Chicken, she says, is well suited to the oven’s dry heat, where it turns golden and crispy. Of course, part of the appeal of sheet-pan suppers is the ability to cook the chicken or other protein along with green and starchy vegetables so that you have an entire meal prepared all at once, usually in about a half-hour, with just one pan to clean.

Erway offers recipes for all parts of the chicken — breast, thigh, wing and leg, even a whole bird — and all ways — boneless, bone-in, skinless and skin-on.

She also uses a wide variety of vegetables, grains and spices.

Many of the recipes incorporate ethnic, particularly Asian, flavors. Recipes are divided into two main categories or chapters.

“On the fly” recipes are the quickest and simplest — dishes that can be thrown together at a moment’s notice, with no long marinades or other complications. These include internet chicken, a “semi-viral” recipe from TASTE founding editor Matt Rodbard and his wife, Tamar Anitai, that combines root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, apples and bacon with bone-in chicken thighs in a sweet-and-sour glaze.

Other “on the fly” recipes include coriander-crusted chicken with crispy chickpeas and pomegranate; cumin five-spice chicken wings with sweet potatoes and eggplant; cashew orange chicken with broccoli; and tomatillo chicken with potatoes, poblanos and corn.

Recipes that call for marinades or otherwise take more time are grouped in a chapter called Worth the Wait. Erway rightly points out that many chicken dishes benefit greatly from an overnight marinade or other pre-seasoning. Many of the recipes in this section take only a few minutes more to prepare — but it’s a few minutes that must be done the day before for best results.

A couple of the recipes in Worth the Wait call for whole chicken: dry-brined whole chicken with fennel and cipollini onions, and roasted dry-drined whole chicken with cherry-walnut stuffing.

The rest of the recipes in this section call for chicken parts. They include Thai yellow curry chicken thighs with cucumber relish, muffuletta chicken rolls, Oaxacan chicken with oregano and garlic, Nashville-style hot chicken with bacon collard greens, and Mom’s soy sauce chicken with pineapple and bok choy.

A third section or chapter in the book is for side dishes, mainly grains. Erway points that as great as sheet pans are, they don’t necessarily work well for such sides as rice, quinoa and pasta. This section includes recipes for “anything goes” fried rice, simple sesame noodles. There are also such salads as citrus with olives, chiles and mint, and such sauces Georgian walnut and tahini-yogurt.

All in all, “Sheet Pan Chicken” not only will teach you to be an expert with roasting on sheet pans, but also will give you plenty of ideas to get out of any chicken recipe rut.

“I’m convinced that roasting chicken is one of the easiest ways to coax out all the flavors and features chicken provides,” Erway wrote, “from the sweet, sticky glaze that may form on its skin to the seasoned juices that run freely from a wingette’s succulent flesh.”

That such coaxing happens with minimal effort, while accompanying vegetables cook right alongside the meat, makes sheet-pan chicken all the more appealing.

Simple, flexible, and delicious,” Erway said, “these are the hallmarks or a winner chicken dinner in my book.”



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