Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Panini


First, a note on why my blogs always seem to go nowhere in the end - I have so many things to get done its hard for me to find the time to write, especially when I've got 60 pages to write for grad class by the end of November. However, I will do my best to find some time to jot down some notes and thoughts about my culinary trials and tribulations. That said...

Sandwiches could be one of the most meaningful invention in history, right up there with the wheel, the atomic bomb and wireless Internet. Meat and other tasty goodness tucked between two pieces of bread? Unreal. The Italians really nailed it on the head with the panino, which literally means "little bread". It should be noted that panino is the singular form, while the ubiquitous panini is the pluralization - it is very bothersome that all the sandwiches at Panera and other places that serve them call them a panini - when one orders mozzarella and portobello panini you should get multiple sandwiches!

One of the biggest misconceptions is that you need to buy a panini press in order to prepare this delicious treat in your own home. Why spend a bunch of money on a huge machine that only has one purpose? Here are the only two things you need, and it's great because you can use these two things for other purposes: a grill pan and a wide casserole pot or Dutch oven. A good grill pan is a great thing, because it lets you do things you would normally do on a grill indoors, so it serves more purposes than just preparing your panini. A large pot...well, you should already have one of those. (Note: any grill pan will do, but the square ones give you more cooking surface)

Here's what you do - cut your bread, put in your sandwich fillings, assemble, preheat the grill pan to medium, then put your sandwiches on the pan. Throw a piece of aluminum foil on top of the sandwiches, put the stock pot on top, and throw in as many heavy things as you can find to press those sandiwiches down. Cook for about 6-7 minutes, flip cook 6 minutes more, then serve. Nirvana in a sandwich.

I usually like to go with a southwest-style panino of smoked turkey, pepper jack cheese, tomato and some homemade chipotle mayo. Steph is true to her Italian roots and prefers roast beef, provolone and some of my sun-dried tomato relish. My mom apparently made one the other day that was bacon, cheddar and apple, which sounds delicious and I may just make it tomorrow for dinner. I'm looking for new flavor combinations - any ideas?

6 comments:

Lauren said...

Do you like cuban sandwiches? They are pressed essentially the same way.

ericcthompson68 said...

I would like to hear more about sun dried tomato relish.

Alex said...

@Lauren: I actually love Cuban sandwiches, and I haven't had one in forever. However, I normally don't make roast pork, but I should, just to be able to make cubanos the next day.

Plus, Stephanie is not the biggest fan of pickles or mustard. Silly girl.

Alex said...

@Eric: All you need is oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, a splash balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning. I have a Cuisinart MiniPrep that it all goes into, and I pulse until its nice and processed. I also add a little of the olive oil from the jar of tomatoes. Keeps for like 2 weeks in the fridge, but usually doesn't last that long.

Stephanie said...

The sun-dried tomato relish is to DIE for. So good. Everyone must try it.

Lauren said...

I don't like mustard independently, but I find that if it is sort of mixed into the mayo it's not as pungent. And well, I love pickles, but a hot ham and cheese sans pickles would still be good, right?