Sheet pan dinners have earned their popular place in the kitchen over the last several years and love them I do. But for couples and singles, that’s a lot of food — even if you’re a leftovers type person. Back in December of 2022, I promised you a few more quarter-sheet pan meals and because I make good on my promises, here’s post #3. The quarter-sheet pan, at just 9″x 13″, is the baby bear of the sheet pan group and is perfect for smaller recipes–like today’s nearly effortless Salsa Chicken Dinner for Two with Cheesy Potatoes and Broccoli.Jump to Recipe
If you’re not familiar with quarter-sheet pans (the pan on top in the photo), read up here or look at one or buy here. Basically, it’s half of a half-sheet pan –which is what most cooks are talking about when they say, “sheet pan dinner.” A sheet pan (which is really a whole sheet pan) is more of a professional baker’s pan and doesn’t usually fit in a home oven.
My first two quarter-sheet pan meals featured 1: salmon fillets with tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms and 2: bone-in pork chops with green beans and sweet potatoes.
Because individual portions like the ones above are the easiest to work with for these quick, little recipes, I kind of figured chicken would be next. I will probably look at boneless breasts and bone-in or boneless thighs another day, but for this recipe I chose one of my favorites– bone-in, skin-on breasts.
Old-fashioned bone-in, skin-on breast, which for good reason tastes a lot like oven-roasted whole chicken but without the longer cooking time and extra servings, is perfect for the newest quarter-sheet pan meal. If you really must do it for dietary reasons, you can remove the skin — but ONLY after the chicken is cooked. I am sure you’ll have to look a bit harder for these breasts than for the ever-popular boneless, skinless breasts (I’m not the big fan but get the reasons folks buy them), but I promise you they’re worth the search and price. Nearly any meat with a bone is more succulent than without if only because the bone insures moisture or juiciness — a prime factor in taste. Ditto skin not only because it’s inherently fatty, but because it wraps and covers the flesh to keep in juices.
What makes this dinner so easy to make?
- The ingredients are simple, the shopping list is short, and you might already have cheese, salsa, potatoes, onions, and garlic. No need for fancy spices or jars of condiments you’ll never again use. And…who doesn’t love chicken and vegetables?
- Once you’ve made this, you’ll remember how to do it. I love recipe memory.
- The prep is quick….slice a few baby potatoes, an onion, some garlic, and break the broccoli into florets. The chicken only gets a slick of oil along with salt and pepper. No difficult technique to master.
- It’s an oven meal. Nuff said. (Hello, newspaper and a glass of wine.)
- Because everything for the meal is on a foil-covered (or use parchment paper) small pan, clean up is a breeze. If you are a single saving the second portion for tomorrow, you just cover the pan and stick it in the fridge. But why not just invite a friend? BONUS: The small pan fits right in the dishwasher.
- Because the recipe and seasonings are very basic, you can change them up to suit your tastes. Choose BBQ sauce instead of salsa, for instance. Sub blue cheese in place of Cheddar. Cauliflower can stand in for broccoli if that’s what you have on hand. Increase the crushed red pepper and use pepper jack if you like heat. Skipping dairy or want lower fat veggies? Forget the cheese and grate in a teaspoon or two of lemon zest. Stir in a small handful of fresh herbs (parsley, basil, dill, cilantro) into the cooked vegetables just before serving — or add a teaspoon of dry herbs such as Herbes de Provence before roasting. How about diced sweet potatoes rather than white? What else?!
- There are not leftovers and that suits many of us. If by chance you do have a few vegetables on the pan after dinner, you have a great frittata, omelet, or salad waiting tomorrow.
- Low carb diet? Nix the potatoes, add cauliflower, or double the broccoli.
TIMING AND TEMPERATURE: Small caution about cooking bone-in breasts: they come in a few sizes. One trial run of this recipe, I somehow ended up with breasts that weighed a pound each. (There were leftovers for salad.) Another time, I had 12-ouncers; some are much smaller. Do remember the bones weigh a little bit, too. The timing for cooking will vary depending on that weight. The potatoes and broccoli can usually stand a little extra roasting (who doesn’t like crispy potatoes and black-edged onions?) if you have the larger breasts. But if you have smaller pieces of chicken and they are done first, remove them to a covered plate on the stove and let the vegetables roast a few more minutes, spreading them out on the pan. (Or plan ahead and cut the veggies smaller.) Keep your instant-read thermometer handy and make sure the chicken has reached 165 degrees F before serving. You can take it out earlier — say at 160 F — and let it rest as the temperature will rise to 165 F during the resting time.
Now that you’ve got the drill and the will, it’s time to try this:
Quarter-Sheet Pan Salsa Chicken Dinner (with Cheesy Potatoes and Broccoli)
- 2 bone-in chicken breasts with skin
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 8- ounces baby potatoes cut into fourths
- 8- ounce broccoli head, divided into florets
- small red onion, peeled and cut into eighths
- 4 large, plump garlic cloves– peeled and sliced thickly
- Crushed red pepper
- ½ cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 4-ounces)
- ¼ cup prepared salsa
- PREHEAT OVEN to 400 degrees F and set rack at center. Line a quarter-sheet pan (9”x13”) with foil. Spray with cooking spray.
- DRIZZLE THE CHICKEN BREASTS with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place at center of lined pan, leaving a little space between them.
- STIR TOGETHER THE POTATOES, BROCCOLI, ONION, AND GARLIC in a large bowl with two tablespoons of olive oil, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and a good pinch of crushed red pepper. Remove the broccoli to the cutting board. (You’ll add it later.) Spoon the remaining vegetables evenly around the chicken breasts.
- ROAST ABOUT 45 MINUTES, remove from oven, and add broccoli on top of or between the vegetables. Pour the salsa on top of chicken breasts and sprinkle the vegetables (and chicken, if you like) with the Cheddar cheese. Return pan to oven and roast another 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer placed into the center of the breasts registers 165 degrees F and vegetables are tender or tender-crisp for the broccoli. (Check small breasts at 10 min.)
- REMOVE FROM OVEN and let the chicken and vegetables rest 5-10 minutes before serving hot. Store cooled leftovers well-wrapped in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not freeze.
Did you know you can recycle clean aluminum foil?
Brown parchment paper is biodegradable and can be composted but white parchment paper is not and should be recycled if possible–check packages. (Information courtesy forkintheroad.co)
Roasting vs Baking: How Are These Two Cooking Methods Different/MARTHASTEWART
How to Safely Defrost Chicken (6 Methods)/KITCHN (Boneless breasts/yours might take a little longer.)
Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals: A Cookbook by Melissa Clark I’m a real Melissa Clark fan and if you’d like a whole book of her inviting one pan meals — some are sheet pan, but not all — order this, her newest book. Or if you’d like to test drive a few of these recipes before buying the book, read up here.
LIFE GOES ON:
Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day. I baked a few cookies (see above) and husband/best sous Dave made pizza for our friend Verl and me. Couldn’t have asked for more.
While we usually make my own grandma pizza at home (based on favorite chef-restaurateur Tyler Florence’s recipe), Dave finally tried out the now-famous America’s Test Kitchen Cast Iron Pizza. We only have one big cast iron skillet, so he used my 12″ stainless steel sauté pan for the second pizza. One was full of meat; the other all veggie — my favorite. We liked them both and, as others have said, it’s a bit like the old school Pizza Hut pizza! You must start a day ahead as the dough rests in the fridge, but I think it’s worth the time.
We’re just on the tail end of a wet winter storm — still quite cold — and are grateful, indeed, for the long-awaited moisture for our dry yards, gardens, open spaces, foothills, and mountains.
Thanks for visiting my kitchen. You’re always so welcome and you keep me going!
Stay warm and well-fed,
Donate to WCK for Turkey/Syria Relief (World Central Kitchen)