Upgrading to a good sheet tray seems like a kitchen tool equivalent to rearranging the electrical wiring at the top of the hardener. That is necessary. While this may not seem particularly fun, you’ll appreciate the upgrade so much. And you’ll wonder how you ever coped without it.
Nordic Ware tinsmiths are the best at the job. They are made of natural aluminum, which is why they heat up quickly and evenly – ideal for baking. They have rims to prevent spillage and distortion. The dimensions of the pan are admittedly a bit confusing: half a sheet is actually a standard size that a home chef would use. Solid leaf pans can only be placed in commercial ovens. This three-piece set is great to start with, as it has a standard half-sheet measuring 18 × 13 inches, which is what recipes mostly ask for. Then there’s the quarter leaf, which is – yes, you guessed it – half the size of half a leaf. This size is perfect for smaller crowds or portions. The last in the set is a large sheet, which is still smaller than a traditional full sheet and should easily fit in your home oven. Use it for larger projects when you need more space. (There are few jobs you can’t do with this set, but I have an inexplicable soft spot for the adorable and ridiculously small eighth tray for drawers. I used it to roast lone chicken breasts and that’s it.)
In addition to baking, endless baking sheet is also used. I love them because of the roasted vegetables. The hoops are high enough to protect against spills, but low enough for air to circulate around the vegetables, making them crispy. (A casserole with an upper frame traps moisture and steam in vegetables.) For a year, I bake turkeys on top of a grate placed in half a sheet for the same reason – the crackling of the skin around me. I love them dinner in a pan,, focaccia of the crunchy bottom, and instead of a pizza stone, I will preheat the inverted baking sheet on the lowest rack in my oven and push the dough directly onto it.
My favorite use of the pan, however, is not for cooking. It’s for organizing my table – which is a French culinary phrase for putting everything in its place and setting up the station before cooking. If I test several recipes at once, I will divide the ingredients for each dish on a quarter-sized baking sheet to stay organized. I will use one to store the mirepoix for the soup while chopping. I will arrange repairs for grain containers,, summer rolls, or taco night in nice rows on a quarter-sheet casserole. If I grill, I put everything I need on half a sheet – olive oil, tongs, towel, salt, knife, lemon – and use it as a portable end station. I’ll put the marinated meat on a baking sheet before I head to the grill, and underneath I’ll have it nestled clean, ready to switch when the meat comes off the grill to rest. Depending on how rustic I feel, I will serve even from a casserole. They are much easier to clean than my wedding porcelain.