This may be hard to hear, but you’re leaving flavor behind on your sheet pans. We love traybakes for the convenience factor—toss everything on a baking sheet, pop it in the oven, and in about an hour you have dinner—but there’s a crucial step that’s often skipped. Once the protein is browned and juicy and the vegetables are tender, people usually plate them up, neglecting all of the little tasty browned bits stuck to the pan. Stop doing that. Instead, deglaze your sheet pan like you would a skillet and make an incredible pan sauce.

You don’t need a formal recipe to use this method. Once the food is done, transfer it to a platter and scrape up the fond (those little browned bits) with the pan juices. If they’re really stuck on there, you can splash some liquid into the hot sheet pan—wine, stock, cream, vinegar, liquor and even water work. Scoop it out, season if needed, and pour it over your food. Easy.

Perk up your sheet pan sauce with garlic, citrus, and aromatics

We get a little fancier with our sheet pan sauces, and plan ahead for maximum flavor with little to no extra work. For our Greek Chicken and Potato Traybake, we nestle a handful of garlic cloves in the center of bone-in, skin-on chicken parts and scatter lemon halves amongst the potatoes. The rendered fat from the chicken keeps the garlic from burning during the bake, while the lemons caramelize and mellow.

Once the chicken and potatoes are done, transfer the chicken and caramelized lemons to a platter, push the potatoes to the side, and mash the softened roasted garlic right into the sheet pan, creating a paste. Squeeze one of the lemon halves over the paste to create a rich, balanced foundation for your sauce.

You could stop there, and simply toss the garlic with the lemony pan juices and potatoes, scraping as you go to incorporate the fond, but we don’t stop there. Instead, we add briny capers, olives, and fresh dill and mix them into the lemony garlic paste, then toss it with the potatoes, scraping up the fond to ensure not even a single speck of flavor is left behind. (More of a visual learner? Watch Milk Street Cooking School director Rosie Gill make it here.)

This is the type of recipe you’ll find all throughout our newest cookbook, Milk Street 365: The All-Purpose Cookbook for Every Day of the Year. Available for pre-order now, it’s packed with over 640 recipes inspired by our travels abroad.

Choose your own flavor adventure

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need a recipe to enjoy the benefits of sheet pan sauces, but we do have quite a few. Our Za’atar-Roasted Chicken, Garlicky Spiced Chicken with Pomegranate Molasses, and Chicken and Potato Traybake with Garlic, Lemon and Parsley all use mashed, roasted garlic to build flavor in their sauce, but if you’re looking for ways to branch out, a tangy-sweet sausage and potato traybake with vinegar and honey, jerk-spiced chicken with juicy roasted pineapple with lime, and fennel-crusted chicken with lightly charred scallions are all great options.

Just please make sure you scrape the pan. The pan is where the flavor lives.

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