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Tray Bake Veggies & Meat Loaf

Tray baking has become a popular technique for home cooks. It saves dishes and frees the cook up from tending to the stove top. As a cook I like this technique as it intensifies flavor by concentrating natural sugars as it roasts or finishing with a broil.

Some tips for successful tray baking are as follows:
• Select a sheet pan with a 1-inch rim around the sides. A heavy pan is preferred as it transfers the heat efficiently. Avoid non-stick or air bake; they will not caramelize as well.
• The shallow sides allow dry heat to fully surround the ingredients, drawing the natural sugars to the surface. This creates a tender, juicy interior with a caramelized exterior.
• Spread ingredients in a single layer, if crowded they will steam and not brown.
• Use parchment paper to insure the release of the ingredients from the pan.
• For high moisture ingredients like tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash or cranberries; let them rest on the pan a few minutes to “thicken.” They can then be removed more intact.
• When combing hearty ingredients, like potatoes with delicate ingredients like fish, start out with the hearty ingredient; when half way done, add the delicate ingredient and finish the bake time.

Mini Meat Loaves, Potatoes and Broccoli

Serves 4
12 ounce fingerling or new potatoes, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
1/3 cup barbeque sauce
¼ cup oatmeal flakes or fine dry bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound ground beef or bison
1 medium head broccoli, cut into long pieces with stem intact
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup barbeque sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 15 x 10 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place prepared potatoes on pan, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix next four ingredients. Add ground beef and gently mix; do not overwork mixture as it will toughen the meal loaves. Shape into 6 small loaves.
  4. Toss prepared broccoli with 1 teaspoon olive oil; lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Nestle loaves and broccoli in pan with potatoes. Be sure they are all in a single layer.
  5. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until loaves are done (160-degree internal temperature). Potatoes and broccoli will be tender and slightly caramelized.
  6. Spoon ¼ cup barbeque sauce over meat loaves, cover and let stand about 10 minutes.

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