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How to Organize a Quick Meal with a Sheet of Pan

A sheet of baking pan is made of aluminum with very shallow sides to allow browning and air flow. It is one of the handy kitchen utensil for baking/cooking meats, vegetables  and whole meals. It is easy to clean and maintain, so it is important you consider getting one or many as you like.

The below factors will help in making the right choice for pans;

  1. The half sheet baking pans have size range of 18 inch by 13 inch and are smaller (about half) than those used for commercial cooking. The standard aluminum pan for this tutorial is the 18 inch by 13 inch personal or home pans, although the 9 inch by 13-inch quarter pan is terrific as well. Both can fit in smaller kitchen or ovens and useful in cooking and will prevents contents from spilling over. When selecting a pan gauge, ensure that it is suitable for heavy duty. The gauge is associated with the metal thickness, and the lighter (heavy duty), the better it is. Gauge of 13 – 18 is fine.

Protein Selection

For every good meal cooked with a pan, protein nutrients are always high on the menu. The choice of protein is yours and any of these can fill in; one quarter to three quarter pounds of pork, poultry, fish or beef, will do the magic, in addition to vegetables.

It is important to note that white meats and boneless chicken cooks faster than dark meats and chicken with bones respectively.

The cooking time may vary between five mins to one and a half hours for turkey breast or chicken and turkey legs with bones.

See below sample time for preparing the below chicken menu

  • Boned chicken breast (whole) – about 30 to 40 mins
  • Boneless chicken breast (whole) – about 20 to 30 minutes
  • Boned chicken thighs (whole) – about 30 to 45 minutes
  • Boneless chicken thighs (whole) – about 20 to 40 minutes

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Vegetables

The quantity of vegetables is up to you, but it is important you remember that at higher temperatures, there is size/quantity reduction for vegetables after cooking. So, bear that in mind. The size of the vegetables should be consistent just like with your proteins. To achieve browning, mix the vegetables with spices/herbs, fats or oil.  

Cooking time for vegetables varies between 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the type, size and oven temperature. Some vegies cook faster, especially vegetables with higher moisture content, but some like tomatoes and zucchini takes time for water in them to evaporate. At higher oven temperature of 425 degrees to 450 degrees, things can move faster.

Vegetable leaves like rabe broccoli, kale, chard and choy bok, takes about 3 -10 minutes. They become brown and crisp if dry, while chard and kale becomes chip-like and brittle with enough oil.

aluminium pan

Adding Flavors

Creativity is allowed here, and spices, herbs, fats and garnishes will bring character to the menu.

  • Spices and herbs

Certain herbs like the sturdy springs will not burn even when cooked at great length. Sage, tarragon, bay leaves, rosemary, marjoram, oregano and thyme, are excellent substitute. Just put the right quantity in the pan to mix with other ingredients, while some needs rubbing on the ingredients.

At high heat some herbs becomes brownish, which diminishes the appearance of the menu. They are best used in garnishing the menu.

Additional spices includes; seeds of fennel, sticks from cinnamon, and the seeds from coriander etc.

  • Fat

They add flavor and ensures browning or color, and for ingredients to mix properly. For example; bacon grease leftover, duck fat, peanut and coconut oil. For a more natural feel, canola or sunflower oil will be good.

  • Additional flavors

This can come from oil coated peeled garlic, lemons blanched, and fresh chilies, will bring additional flavors and browning to your menu.

Vinegar (drizzles), citrus (squeezes), yogurt, cheese (crumbled), vinaigrettes, sauce, onions etc. can add additional finishes to your menu. 

Cooking

With everything one hand, you need to remember that the cook times for the different ingredients matter. Therefore, cooking is done starting with ingredients that lasts longer. Chopping an ingredient into smaller bits decreases the cook times or some ingredients like carrots, although the time difference may be same if paired with larger tomatoes.

Note that the position of the ingredients and the cooking pan itself relative to the heat source is very important. Ingredients on the edges cook faster, while the pan becomes browner if too close to the heat source. Ensure ingredients are even spread out and turning at regular intervals ensure that cooking is done evenly.

Temperature regulation is essential for an even cook. Food becomes browner at higher temperature, and if care is not taken, they will be burnt.