While the set-up of my home kitchen looks very different from that of a restaurant, there’s one thing that has remained from my years as a line cook: the stack of sizzle platters that’s always by my side. And it’s not going anywhere.
What’s a sizzle platter, you ask? Small aluminum or cast-iron dishes that can be ovular or rectangular (like an ultra mini baking sheet), they’re endlessly useful and incredibly durable. In a restaurant, these little platters take a lot of heat, constantly tossed under broilers and salamanders for cooking steaks or charring vegetables—and that’s how you know they can handle anything in your home. Here are a few reasons you need a stack of your own:
Cooking for One or Two
At home I’m usually cooking for two, and sizzle platters let me make the most of my limited oven space. Because I can roast multiple things at once on several small platters rather than all together on one big baking sheet, each item can go in and out of the oven just when it needs to. I can give a couple of chicken thighs a head start so that they can get tender and crispy, then add the asparagus sizzle plate to the party later on so that both components are ready at the same time. If I’m making dinner for just myself, I’ll use a sizzle platter to broil just one portion of shrimp (or fish or tofu) and keep cleanup fast and easy.
Toasting Nuts and Seeds
Giving nuts and seeds a few minutes in the oven deepens their flavors and improves their texture—and it provides more even cooking than the stovetop. But I can’t justify clogging up the oven with a big sheet tray to toast just a handful. Sizzle platters leave enough room for the rest of the meal to get its oven time, too.
Mise en Place-ing Like a Pro
There are times when mise en place is especially important, like if you’re making a stir-fry, an unfamiliar recipe, or an elaborate, multi-component meal. That’s when I’ll take the time to measure and prep all my ingredients before I get cooking, and sizzle platters are the best for holding and organizing it all. Who wants to wash countless small bowls when you can make neat piles on a few sizzle platters instead?!
Dry Brining Meat
With a small wire rack set inside your sizzle platter, you’ve got the perfect setup for dry brining one or two portions of meat. The small footprint of a sizzle platter fits easily in any fridge, while the matching mini rack keeps the meat from hanging out in its own juices.
Corralling Your Utensils
I like to keep one sizzle platter right beside the stove as a landing zone for dirty utensils that are currently in use. I can plop my wooden spoon there when it’s not busy stirring or park my rubber spatula when it needs a break. Unlike a traditional spoon rest that can only accommodate one utensil at a time, a sizzle platter can fit any number of small tools, from a fish spatula to my favorite tongs.
Maybe a sizzle platter isn’t as cute as an official spoon rest, but I ask you: what else can an official spoon rest do? I may be cooking at home rather than in a restaurant, but each piece of equipment must still earn its keep, and my sizzle plates are anything but slackers.
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