Last Friday, I roasted some delicious chicken thighs. By Saturday afternoon, they were gone. My boyfriend and I plucked the last two directly from their roasting pan in the fridge and ate them barefoot in the kitchen without plates or flatware. A couple of hours later, I opened the fridge to find the pan we had left behind.
This was, by anyone’s standards, a dirty pan. It was the “before” pan in a Cascade commercial: something to be dealt with, scrubbed, sanitised. But when I looked at the pan I had forgotten about in my haste to shove cold chicken into my mouth, I didn’t see something that needed cleaning. I saw potential.
When you roast any piece of meat, a certain amount of stuff is left behind. This stuff is usually made up of highly-seasoned fat, collagen, and a little bit of water, collectively referred to as “drippings.” Drippings taste very good, which is why some people use them to make sauces and gravies, and why others shove a bunch of vegetables under particularly drippy cuts of poultry. Wiping and washing away the contents of this pan would have been a waste of fat and flavour, but separating the schmaltz from the cold collagen and storing them for later usage would have been a pain in my butt.
There are a lot of “correct” ways to cook vegetables but — though I’m not a huge fan of culinary presciptivism — I’m going to go ahead and say that roasting is the most correct. Everything from tender green asparagus to hearty root vegetables tastes phenomenal when prepared this way,...Read more
Instead of doing either of those things, I heated the pan to get the drippings moving, then tossed them with some asparagus and roasted the little stalks until they were just past tender-crisp. It made for very good, perfectly seasoned and dressed asparagus. The left-behind chicken drippings acted as both cooking fat and sauce, coating each stalk with rich, meaty, roasted flavour.
The same manoeuvre can be executed with any vegetable. Potatoes are an obvious choice, but the asparagus surprised me with how good it was, so don’t underestimate the long green guys. (I bet a quartered onion would be good too.)
To make dirty-pan roasted vegetables, you will need:
- A roasting pan with a fair amount of leftovers drippings
- Enough of one or more prepared vegetables to fill the roasting pan (See this guide for details on how to prepare them.)
Take the pan out of the fridge and pick out any little bits that might burn, such as herbs, meat, or already-cooked vegetables. Set your oven to 220 degrees Celsius and place the dirty roasting pan inside to warm as the oven preheats.
After about five minutes, give the drippings a stir to see if they’ve melted and, once they have, remove the pan from the oven and toss your prepared vegetables in the drippings. Return the pan to the heated oven and roast the vegetables until they are tender and crispy on the edges (see this post for approximate times).
Eat your vegetables, and repeat with a different plant part until you are out of pan drippings, or mop ‘em up with some bread. (Drippings are particularly delicious when spread on toast.) Then — and only then — should you wash your roasting pan.