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
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 15 x 10 pan with parchment paper.
- Place prepared potatoes on pan, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until loaves are done (160-degree internal temperature). Potatoes and broccoli will be tender and slightly caramelized.
- Spoon ¼ cup barbeque sauce over meat loaves, cover and let stand about 10 minutes.
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