Hero Dinners: Complete One-Pan Meals That Save the Day

Sheet Pan Clam Bake

          Hero Dinners: Complete One-Pan Meals That Save the Day by Marge Perry and David Bonom offers a variety of recipes making it easy to prepare a nutritious, well-balanced and delicious meal using just one sheet pan or skillet.

          Recipe developers for magazines and major food companies, the two would spend all day working with food.

“The day would end we would have nothing to eat even though we cooked all day,” says Perry. “I started creating these meals that were sort of up to our pallets that we could make in either one sheet pan one skillet.”

The requirement for hero dinners were simple and called for three things–using a pan or skillet, including a protein, vegetable, and a starch and using ingredients that are natural or minimally processed.

With these dinners, says Perry, there are two heroes-the meals because they save the day.

“Also you’re the hero for being able to make dinner, sit down, relax and enjoy it and not have to face a sink full of dinner dishes,” she says.

Peruvian Chicken with Ají Verde

Purple Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt, divided

2½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 6 thighs)

12 ounces baby purple potatoes, halved lengthwise

12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

½ cup unsalted chicken broth

Aji Verde

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded

1 small garlic clove

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup canola mayonnaise

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

Skillet Chicken Thighs

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Combine the soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder, chipotle powder, thyme, and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl to form a paste. Rub the mixture all over the chicken to coat.

Combine the potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large bowl. Toss with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and add the potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and pour in the broth; cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the largest piece of chicken registers 170°F, 23 to 25 minutes.

While the chicken roasts, make the ají verde: Puree the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, sour cream, mayonnaise, olive oil, vinegar, and salt in a blender.

Chicken Bánh Mì

Quick Pickled Vegetables + Sriracha Mayonnaise


¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar

¼ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup pre-shredded carrots (matchstick size)

1 small daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks (about 1 cup)

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons sriracha sauce, divided

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to an even thickness

½ cup canola mayonnaise

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 (7-to-8-inch) steak or sub rolls, halved horizontally

½ English cucumber, cut diagonally into sixteen ¼-inch-thick slices

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 large jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced

Make the quick pickled vegetables: Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the carrots, daikon, and onion; let it stand at room temperature, giving it a stir now and then, for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sriracha, salt, and pepper in a bowl; add the chicken and toss well. Let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes

Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon sriracha and the mayonnaise in a small bowl

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until the underside is golden brown and the chicken readily releases from the pan, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of the chicken registers 160°F, another 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the rolls in the oven directly on the oven rack and toast for 5 minutes

Drain the pickled vegetables

Cut the chicken across in ¼-1/2-inch-thick slices. Spread the mayonnaise on the cut surfaces of the rolls and fill each with one-quarter of the chicken, 4 cucumber slices, one-quarter of the pickled vegetables, whole mint, and cilantro leaves, and jalapeño slices. Cut each sandwich across in half just before serving.

Sheet Pan Clambake


12 ounces baby red potatoes

 Medium red onion, cut through the root end into 8 wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, divided

1 pound shell-on shrimp (16/20 per pound)

3 ears of corn, husked, each cut into 4 pieces

1 large zucchini (about 12 ounces), cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Combine the potatoes, onion, and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large bowl. Toss with ½ teaspoon of the Old Bay seasoning. Transfer to the sheet pan and roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the shrimp, corn, zucchini, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same bowl. Stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, the salt, and pepper.

Add the shrimp to the sheet pan along with the clams. Top with the diced butter. Roast until the vegetables are tender, the clams have opened, and the shrimp are cooked through, 17 to 18 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened.

From Hero Dinners by Marge Perry and David Bonom. Copyright © 2019 by Marge Perry and David Bonom. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.