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Lynda Balslev: Sheet pan comfort

A sheet pan dish is a complete meal assembled on a pan and plopped in the oven, where the meat, vegetables and aromatics mingle together.
Photo by Lynda Balslev

How do you define comfort food? For me, it’s a meal or dish that is easy to make and undemanding, yet deeply flavorful and homey, as though it has been tended to for hours to reap delicious results. Sheet pan recipes often fall into this category.

A sheet pan dish is simply that — a complete meal assembled on a pan and plopped in the oven, where the meat, vegetables and aromatics mingle together. Their juices baste the dish, along with any other liquids, such as a splash of wine or stock, infused by sprigs of fresh and woodsy herbs.

Bone-in chicken thighs are perfect for sheet pan cooking. They are almost impossible to overcook, and the succulent meat does not dry out, allowing the time needed to tenderize and brown additional ingredients, such as sturdy root vegetables, sweet onions and earthy mushrooms.



In this recipe, I use cipollini onions. Cipollini onions are small, flattened red and yellow onions. They are sweeter and milder than their larger yellow, red and white brethren, making them great for roasting and caramelizing. Mushrooms are also a key ingredient of this dish. As they roast, their juices impart a rich umami flavor to the pan juices. Any mushroom will work, but try to choose a selection of wild mushrooms, if possible. I used a mix of shiitake, beech, king trumpet and cremini mushrooms in this recipe. Be sure to cut them into large bite-size pieces of similar size.

 

Sheet Pan Chicken With Wild Mushrooms and Onions

Active Time: 15 minutes



Total Time: 50 minutes, plus marinating time

Yield: Serves 4

Marinade

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 chicken thighs, bone-in with skin

1 pound red or white cipollini onions, peeled, halved crosswise

3/4 pound assorted wild mushrooms (or cremini mushrooms)

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 thyme sprigs, plus more for garnish

3 rosemary sprigs, plus more for garnish

Whisk the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken and turn to thoroughly coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the onions, mushrooms and garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil, season with the salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet. Nestle the chicken thighs, skin-side up, among the vegetables. Scatter the thyme and rosemary sprigs around the pan.

Roast in the oven until the chicken is cooked through (a meat thermometer will register 165 degrees when inserted in the thickest part not touching the bone), about 35 minutes. If the skin is not golden yet, turn on the oven broiler and continue to cook until the skin is golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes more.

Remove from the oven and discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Taste the mushrooms and season with additional salt if desired. Serve warm with the pan juices and fresh thyme or rosemary for garnish.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area.


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