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The humble sheet pan is the hero of weeknight cooking. Its sleek, spacious surface allows the busy home cook to get a balanced dinner — protein! starch! vegetables! — on the table, fast, with very little prep or cleanup. Just chop, drop and roast.
That’s why, every week, we’ll be sharing the go-to, throw-it-all-on-a-sheet-pan recipes from our favorite chefs and home cooks. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, friends, family or meal-prepping for the week, you should keep these one-pan meals in your back pocket — or, rather, your oven.
This week, New York Times Cooking columnist, reporter and cookbook author Melissa Clark shares a recipe from her new cookbook "Dinner in French": ratatouille sheet pan chicken — aka the stuff of "Ratatouille" food critic Anton Ego's weeknight dreams.
One of my favorite ratatouille hacks comes from a fashionable Parisian who taught me that the most convenient way to cook the vegetables is on a sheet pan in the oven. Being already committed to the sheet pan cause, it wasn’t a huge leap for me to give up Julia Child’s saucepan method, which requires the cook to stand over the stove, sautéing each type of vegetable separately before combining them all. Sheet pans in the oven are more of a hands-off affair, and the method allows vegetables with similar cooking times to share the same pan (eggplant and onion in one pan, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes in another).
Technique tip: If you buy tomato paste in a tube, you won’t worry about what to do with the leftover stuff in the can. Or you can freeze the excess.
In this recipe, I’ve taken that basic ratatouille-in-the-oven technique and added a halved chicken to the pan. As the meat cooks, the glorious chicken fat coats and crisps the vegetables, imbuing them with flavor. And the chicken absorbs the heady character of onion, peppers and herbs. It’s not as laissez-faire as other sheet pan recipes — there’s some rotating of pans so everything cooks evenly — but the combination of crisp chicken skin, fragrant herbs and soft summer vegetables is well worth the work.
Make-ahead tip: You can marinate the chicken halves, uncovered, up to overnight in the fridge.