Nobody would mistake me for being hip and trendy. I have been wearing clogs — not the same pair, mind you — since the Ford administration. Yet I am YASSing and inserting heart emoji on behalf of the quarter sheet pan, which is surfing a wave of popularity. Deservedly so.
There it is on social media, roasting a one-pan meal for two. Toasting a handful of nuts so tidily. Cradling a deep-dish pizza for, er, two to three. Why, there’s a handy pair of them baking simultaneously on a middle oven rack, meatloaf on one and olive-oiled asparagus on the other. Efficient!
The rimmed metal baking pan that has long been held dear by American cooks is the rectangular half sheet. At 18 by 13 inches, it offers the proper expanse for a batch of cookie dough or a tumble of frozen crinkle-cut fries. That makes the quarter sheet’s dimensions 9 by 13 inches, a size we might be preconditioned to love thanks to the workhorse Pyrex pan. We have come to admire the way a quarter sheet conveys a sit-down order in our favorite barbecue joints, including sides.
I can understand why the quarter sheet is winning fans. It has an edge over its larger or deeper kin, in terms of versatility. Its size makes it easy to handle and store. It doesn’t go “boing” under the broiler. A model that comes with a snap-on plastic lid simplifies food transport. Its smaller surface area makes for fewer splatters while you roast; my new preferred way to cook a three-pound chicken is atop a wire rack seated inside a quarter sheet pan. Because the baking tray has short sides, more of the bird is exposed to heat — that means more crisped skin and less oven time.
Further reasons to heart the quarter sheet: Medium-length bamboo skewers fit crosswise. In my more organized moments, it works as a holding pen for recipe mise en place. There’s no better vehicle for chilling berries, IQF-style, or for freezing flat a gallon-size zip-top bag of homemade chicken broth. This is a pan that fits, short side facing front, even in an ol’ side-by-side refrigerator, possibly the worst-designed kitchen appliance ever.
Emoji +100, gold star, Olympic ribbon, clapping hands, thumbs up. Da bomb.
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