The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Everything is Panning Out

This blog will be more words than pictures. I will attempt to illustrate the many uses I have found for modular sized sheet pans that you find in better cooking stores or restaurant supply houses. About 4 years ago I started using full sheet pans to help with my grilling chores. They proved very versatile and I ended up with two that I bought and two that were given to me. Within the last two years I added 1/2 and 1/4 sheet pans to my arsenal. The modular nature of these pans opens up all kinds of possibilities. Four 1/4 sheet pans fit in a full pan, two 1/4’s in a half sheet pan, two 1/2s in a whole. Better yet there are gridded inserts for these pans. The inserts for the 1/2 sheet pans are non-stick and are a perfect fit for the 1/2 sheet pans. These non-stick inserts came from Williams-Sonoma. The ones for the 1/4 pans are stainless steel and aren’t quite a perfect fit but close enough. These grids open up all sorts of additional possibilities, which I will attempt to show in the pictures.

Before moving on to the pictures I will mention one other thing, the quality of these pans varies. The first round of half sheet pans I bought came from a restaurant supply house. The second round came from Sur La Table a kitchen supply store and these were Chicago Metallic brand which make a point of being made in the USA. The 1/2 and 1/4 sheet pans fit in a dishwasher and I was surprised when I washed the ones from the restaurant supply house in the dishwasher. They came out tarnished. I can’t believe this happened because in a restaurant environment you would be dealing with higher hot water temperatures and stronger soaps. Interestingly the Chicago Metallic Made in USA versions do not tarnish anywhere near as badly. If the pans getting darker bothers you, you should hand wash. For me, I feel the dishwasher gets the pans cleaner and that is more important to me.

Now I will show a series of pictures showing the various uses I have put the various pans and gridded inserts to:


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One of the first uses I put my new full sheet pans to was rib prep. You could lay out 4 St. Louis cut ribs and trim them and remove the silverskins. You could add the rub and the tray catches the spillage. These 4 ribs then get placed in a 4 rack rib rack.

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The full sheet pans were great if you need to baste the ribs (left). This could be done in the house or out on a grill side table. Some rib recipes involve searing the ribs using direct heat. The sheet pans were a great way to transfer the ribs on and off the grill.


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A full sheet pan plus a Black & Decker Workmate make a quick and effective supplemental prep table. In this case one side table on the grill was holding some veggies being grilled & I was heating a sauce on the side burner. I was able to keep an eye on the grill & do my prep outdoors.


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Another half sheet pan is used to run the paninis out to the grill. Later when the paninis are hot from being on the grill, the sheet pan makes for a safe transport of the panini holders back into the house.


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Lately I have been using a sheet of foil to protect the sheet pan and avoid having to throw the sheet pan in the dishwasher. The picture on the left is the final prep of a panini. The picture on the right shows the finished panini on a 1/2 sheet pan, together with a 1/4 sheet pan & brick.

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A 1/4 sheet pan and a foil wrapped brick make a great press for 2 paninis. A 1/2 sheet pan plus 2 bricks can handle 4 paninis. The grill marks look like an indoor panini press.


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On the left a full sheet pan plus two 1/4 sheet pans are being used for some steak & pepper sandwiches. The steaks are on a grid which I will swap out for a second clean one to receive the grilled steaks. The buns are on another 1/4 sheet pan. The rest of the full sheet pan is used for some tools, melted butter & a wire mesh grill pan. On the way back in the sheet pan holds the scaldingly hot wire mesh pan.


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These Patty Melts had prep done to them after the patties were grilled. You build the entire sandwich & return it to the grill to toast the outside of the rye bread & melt the cheese. The picture on the left shows all of the ingredients on the side table ready to be started. On the right is the mid-point prep.


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A full sheet pan plus some grids make a great layout space for prepping grilled veggies. On the left the veggies have been sliced & sprayed with olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper. The sheet pan keeps the counter clean & the grid keeps the olive oil coated veggies from sticking to the sheet pan. Then it is out to the grill. The picture on the right shows the finished grilled veggies.


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A full sheet pan makes a great prep surface for assembling grilled quesadillas. Adding a grid before spraying the outer side of the tortilla, keeps the olive oil from coming off on the sheet pan. It is now off to the grill.


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This steak was brushed with melted butter & salt & pepper prior to cooking. Once again the cooling grid provided a surface to keep the butter from sticking. Once the steaks have been taken to the grill, I swap out the grid for a clean one to bring the cooked steaks back in.


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A full sheet pan plus a 1/4 sheet pan with the toppings makes for easy at the grill prep. Why the 1/4 sheet pan? Well I often make more than one type of pizza at a time. By putting all of the toppings foreach pizza type on their own tray, I make sure to get the right toppings on each type of pizza. I sort things out in the kitchen & don’t have to think at the grill.


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A half sheet pan plus cooling grid makes the cleanup after applying a messy rub or marinade quick & easy. Wash the pans & cooling grid in the dishwasher, no counter cleanup required.


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A full sheet pan made for a safe way to transport the grilled meatball holder which gets branding iron hot. Once inside it protects the counter. The roast on the right has a sticky glaze, but the cooling rack helps keep it from sticking while cooling.


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If you get tired of being creative you can always use these sheet pans for some of their normal uses. On left I was making some dough for hot dog rolls. On the right I was using the full sheet pan for breadstick dough prep. The finished dough goes into the greased 1/2 sheet pan & then into the oven.


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Some soft cheese breadsticks go great with grilled pizza (left). Beef Empinadas (right) go into the oven on 1/2 sheet pans preheated with olive oil which gives them almost a fried type skin.

As you can hopefully see, the uses you can put sheet pans to is limited only by your imagination. I keep finding more and more uses for them. I would recommend getting a good grade like Chicago Metallic. They are thicker , bake a little more evenly & seem to hold up better to cleaning cycles.
Here are the sources for the items shown here.

Chicago Metallic Sheet Pans - Full, 1/2 & 1/4 sizes - Sur La Table Retail & Online Stores, King Arthur Flour Online Store
Non-Stick 1/2 Sheet Pan Sized Cooling Grids - Williams-Sonoma Retail & Online Store
Stainless Steel 1/4 Sheet Pan Sized Cooling Grids - Sur La Table Retail & Online Store Note that these are slightly smaller than the std. 1/4 sheet pan and I can’t find them in non-stick


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