The Versatile Pan Restaurant Chefs Use Instead Of Sheet Pans

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You don't need a lot of gadgets to be a great cook, despite what Instagram or TikTok might say. Before the days of newfangled gadgets, chefs and home cooks invented some pretty amazing dishes using just a good-quality chef's knife, a few well-made pots and pans, and fresh ingredients.

If you're going to spend some cash on a kitchen gadget, however, the first rule should be that it is multipurpose. There are very few single-use tools that make the grade, according to Alton Brown, who is waging a one-person campaign against what he calls "unitaskers" (per Slate). For every garlic press, there's some new magic device that does something you can easily do with tools you already own (looking at you, banana slicer). Besides being mostly useless, these one-trick tools take up valuable space in your kitchen and create clutter, which makes finding the tools you actually need more challenging.

When you're outfitting your kitchen, think more like a professional chef than a home cook. Cooking gadgets imply that cooking is hard if you don't have tons of extra gear — but chefs know that you can make due with the basics. There are a couple of extras that you don't normally see marketed to home cooks, however, that are staples in commercial kitchens that you might want to pick up. One of the most versatile pieces is a sizzle platter.

What are sizzle platters?

Sizzle platters are small, shallow aluminum or cast-iron baking dishes that can go in and out of an oven or broiler with ease. They're especially helpful for "refiring" a dish "on the fly" at a restaurant — that is, re-cooking a plate that has been sent back and needs to cook quickly for a few minutes in the "salamander."

Because they can take the heat and are a handy size, sizzle platters can do much more than just reheating a too-rare burger for a cranky customer, however. Think of them as tiny sheet pans, and suddenly, the possibilities are endless. They're also very light and stackable, so they won't take up too much precious real estate in your kitchen.

You can use a sizzle platter for toasting a few nuts or seeds or for broiling vegetables, and it's nice to have a couple of them around so that you can take things in and out of the oven at different times rather than all together on one big sheet pan (per Bon Appétit). You can also get a platter super hot under the broiler and use it to do the cooking, such as searing rare tuna or fajita fillings (cast-iron models work best for this). Sizzle platters are also great for corralling your mise en place — that is, all your ingredients you have prepped before doing the cooking, such as seasoned meat for the grill or a pile of mirepoix for making stock.

Cooking for one or two

Sizzle platters are useful in any size kitchen, but they really shine if you're cooking for one or two people. They're usually between 10-12 inches, which is the perfect size for roasting one or two pieces of chicken, salmon, filet mignon, or a half rack of lamb. They're also perfect for cooking up a handful of shrimp or bacon-wrapped scallops with a little bit of clarified butter, because the lip around the edge will keep the liquid from spilling over.

Try using sizzle platters for baking, too. Use one to bake a couple of frozen dinner rolls, a mini French baguette from Trader Joe's, or one chocolate croissant from Whole Foods (find them in the freezer by the bakery case). You can even use them to bake just one or two cookies at a time for a little afternoon treat. 

Try making a batch of chocolate chip cookies and scooping the batter into balls and freezing them; when you want a fresh cookie or two, pop them on a sizzle platter with a little cooking spray or a piece of parchment and bake. You can also use a sizzle platter to slide a dish of crème brûlée under the broiler for a perfect crust. Priced at around $10 each, they're a cheaper choice than a handheld torch for brûlée-ing — plus, they pass the multipurpose test.