Chicken

A Cheesy Weeknight Chicken Gratin Made Entirely in One Pan

Your sheet pan, that is. Plus, two more speedy sheet-pan wonders to make for dinner, stat.

by:
November 18, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Megan Hedgpeth.

It's the end of the long workday (or the start of an extra-long week) and we're hungry. Like, "can't-think-straight" hungry. Luckily, Food52 contributor EmilyC wants to do all the thinking for us. In Dinner's Ready, her monthly column on weeknight wonders, she shares three simple, flavor-packed recipes that are connected by a single idea or ingredient. Stick with Emily, and you'll have a good dinner on the table in no time. Today, Emily shares three crave-worthy sheet-pan dinners you can make tonight.


I’ll just come out and say it: I will never tire of sheet-pan dinners. It would be hard to put a number on the times I’ve assembled some combination of protein, vegetables, or starch on a sheet pan, slid it into a hot oven, and then served dinner 30 minutes or so later—straight from the pan.

These dinners are fixtures in my kitchen, and my my fondness only grows stronger each fall when I find new ways to reimagine these weeknight standbys. I keep thinking my family is surely going to revolt and hide my sheet pans from me, but thankfully, they appreciate these laid-back meals as much as I do.

So why do I keep coming back to this style of cooking? The minimal prep and easy clean-up are big reasons. Seven months into this pandemic, and I’m still reeling from the amount of dirty dishes to contend with on a daily basis. So I’m all for anything that streamlines and simplifies dinnertime.

But more than the convenience, there’s something magical about how high heat and a humble sheet pan can transform simple ingredients into a satisfying meal. Staples like chicken thighs, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts can be cooked on the stovetop, of course, but I much prefer the deeply concentrated flavor and burnished, caramelized edges that result from high-heat roasting. And when you start experimenting with spices and flavorings—or different ways to prep vegetables (say, shaving cauliflower versus cutting it into florets)—the possibilities are nearly endless.

Below are three of my newest creations that exemplify the ease and deliciousness of sheet-pan cooking. Like any good dinner of this ilk, they’re totally forgiving based on what’s in your pantry or crisper drawer. To guide the way, I’ve included lots of ideas for substitutions on each recipe page.


Sheet-Pan Chicken & Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

To me, this sheet-pan dinner is a dream come true: crispy chicken and a golden, cheesy gratin—all on one pan, all on a weeknight! The key is using a quick-cooking, cheese-loving vegetable (shaved cauliflower!) and staggering when the ingredients go in the oven. Start by roasting bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for about 15 minutes, then assemble your gratin directly on the hot pan around the thighs—complete with a crispy-crunchy-cheesy topping that’s arguably a gratin’s best part. In about 15 more minutes, you’ll have a warming, soul-satisfying dinner that’ll leave you wondering where weeknight gratins have been all of your life.


Sheet-Pan Miso Tofu With Brussels Sprouts, Apple & Arugula

This dinner is autumn on a sheet pan, and it couldn’t be easier to make or prettier to behold. While your oven heats up, marinate cubes of tofu in a salty-tangy-sweet mix of miso, soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, and oil. Roast the tofu for about 15 minutes until it’s browning and crisping around the edges, then add lots of tangled, shredded Brussels sprouts (seasoned with lime zest and Aleppo pepper) and almonds, and let the high heat work its magic. Toss in fresh apple and peppery arugula as final flourishes (right on the sheet pan!), and marvel at how a meal so layered in flavors, textures, and colors came together so quickly.


Sheet-Pan Shrimp & Broccoli With Cocktail-Sauce Sauce

This quirky-delicious sheet-pan dinner is inspired by shrimp cocktail, which I adore, and my curiosity about new ways to use an opened bottle of cocktail sauce. Turns out, when you mix cocktail sauce with melted butter, lemon, garlic, and stock (either seafood or chicken) and add it to a hot sheet pan, it makes a crazy good, crazy simple pan sauce. The whole dinner comes together easily: Roast broccoli at high heat until it's mostly tender, nestle the shrimp among the florets, and roast until just cooked through. Add the sauce and roast for another minute or two, or until slightly thickened. Serve with crusty bread, or pile on top of pasta or rice, so you can sop up every last bit of sauce.

What's your favorite sheet-pan dinner? Let us know in the comments.
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EmilyC

Written by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

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