There are now over 42,000 Instagram Posts hashtagged #SheetPanDinner
And after I publish this, there will be one more. It’s a riff on one of the 20 recipes the New York Times put together last month. Melissa Clark had roasted thick bone-in pork chops covered in a cumin-brown sugar rub with brussels sprouts and sage. I changed the recipe to accommodate an addition. On a whim, I had bought tiny little tomatoes in a host of colors. I decided to add the tomatoes. And I decided the Brussels Sprouts would be terrific glazed with Maple Syrup. Canadian by birth, there is virtually nothing I don’t think is improved by Canadian Maple Syrup. This was a great success. The spicy cumin-flavored pork and the sweetness of both the tiny tomatoes and the maple-glazed Brussels Sprouts were made for each other. And it took less than 45 minutes for the whole thing to cook.
How did the humble Sheet Pan become the star of so many recipes?
According to Genevieve Ko, Senior Editor for the Times’ Food Section, credit must be given to Martha Stewart. Ms. Stewart’s biography included a stint catering in Connecticut. She used the Sheet Pan as a workhorse. Their four sizes are a cornerstone in many American restaurants, bakeries, and foodservice kitchens. The biggest of the lot, 18 x 26, was designed to fit in commercial ovens. A half sheet pan, which is what most home sheet pan recipes call for is 18 x 13.
A quarter sheet pan at 9.5 x 13 is what I used for this recipe. Even smaller is the eighth sheet pan at 6.5 x 9.5 inches. Back to Martha. When she started her TV series, she used sheet pans constantly although she didn’t focus on them. Let’s face it, a sheet pan doesn’t have the visual allure of copper pots and Le Creuset. In fact, they’re just plain ugly. But her audience saw them and wanted them. And in 2001, Nordic Ware introduced their sheet pan collection for home cooks.
Like the one-pot meal, sheet pans cook an entire meal on one pan.
Vegetables, protein, and starch are all be cooked on a single piece of cookware. Ms. Ko of the Times likens the sheet pan to a canvas in which a variety of shapes and colors can be arranged. “The actual cooking requires nothing more than passive waiting.” Pure aluminum is recommended as it conducts heat evenly. She eschews any sheet pan with any coating at all. Non-stick finishes cannot withstand the high heat called for here. Thicker pans are best. Complaints about difficulty washing sheet pans were dismissed by Ms. Stewart. “If they’re washed in hot soapy water right away, everything comes right off “. Meanwhile, we put ours in the dishwasher. This discolors them but doesn’t affect using them for cooking. For easy clean-up, I use Reynolds Non-Stick foil. The look of my pan is not top of mind. Here is the recipe for this sheet pan dinner. And after it, a couple more sheet pan recipes. Plus a link to all 20 of the Times’ Sheet Pan section.
Sheet Pan Cumin Pork Chops and Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts
The spicy cumin-flavored pork chop and the sweetness of both the tiny tomatoes and the maple-glazed Brussels Sprouts were made for each other.
- For the Cumin Rub for the Pork Chops:
- ½ tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more as needed
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 2 large bone-in pork chops, about 1 inch thick (about 1 pound total)
- For the vegetables: 14 oz brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through the stem
- 2 tbsp. Maple Syrup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup of tiny tomatoes
- Step 1 In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, salt, cumin seeds, ground cumin, black pepper, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and garlic until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Step 2 Smear mixture all over the pork and let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, refrigerate, covered, up to 24 hours.
- Step 3 Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, toss brussels sprouts with oil and maple syrup, and a large pinch of salt and pepper.
- Step 4 Artfully arrange the pork chops, brussels sprouts, and tiny tomatoes on a quarter-size rimmed sheet pan and place in the oven.
- Step 5 Roast pork and sprouts for 15 minutes. Flip the chops over 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 for 5 minutes. Serve.