Friday, July 30, 2010

Foodie Friday- the Perfect Panini

Foodie Fridays have been a bit sparse as of late. What can I say- when it's 104 degrees outside turning on the oven to further advance the inferno just seems asinine.

Sandwiches are a great summertime meal for this exact reason and are even better grilled.  I have probably grilled a hundred of these things, so I thought I would share with all you lovely readers my method to making the perfect panini.
The great thing about the panini is that there are thousands of combinations you can come up with... prosciutto/ mozzarella/tomato, brie/pear/arugula, nutella/strawberry, I could go on and on. Despite the combination you choose, I would venture to say that the most important ingredient of the panini is the bread. I like to use any sort of focaccia that is thick enough to slice in half.  I usually get mine at Central Market or even Super Target has small round focaccia that are good for this purpose (shown).
Before you get started, preheat your panini press.  I use a Cuisinart Griddler and love it.  The top of it is on a floating hinge so it presses sandwiches flat no matter how thick they are without squishing all the goods out of the other end. And it also comes with smooth plates that you can use to make pancakes.
The most important step of the whole process is the inside out assembly.  First cut the focaccia in half and then flip inside out so the outside is now the inside.  This not only gives you a flatter surface on the outside to press, but it will also keep all the focaccia-y goodness from getting burned.  So turn it inside out, and then build it as you would any other sandwich.
After you have it built, drizzle/brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil.  Or if you are lazy and want to make your life even easier, spray it on both sides with this wonderful little product.  Note: by no means is this fancy, but since you don't even really taste the olive oil, I don't think it's a bad shortcut to take.
Place on panini press and push down on lid to squish flat (all technical terms). The floating hinge is great, but I usually build the panini so it angles up to one side a little and then put that side towards the back so when it squishes, it moves the top half to be even with the bottom. (Shocking display of anal retentiveness from a Non-Type A such as myself, I know).
Grill for 5- 8 minutes to your desired crispiness, pull off, cut in half and enjoy*!  I am a firm believer that grilling makes any sandwich taste better and even with as much as I'm in my kitchen- the panini press is still one of my most heavily utilized appliances.

*Enjoy carefully depending on your ingredients: I don't know if I have dull teeth or if I am just inept at the skill of eating, but I was enjoying the pictured panini when I apparently didn't bite completely through a tomato. I pulled the entire thing out of the sandwich with my teeth and it wrapped its piping-hot, fresh-off-the-grill, little self around my chin.  I started yelping and flung it off my face onto my lap where it burned my thigh. My roommate was observing all of this with quite a sense of amusement.  But seriously, that shit hurt. It burned my face so badly that it peeled. Literally peeled. I took a picture to document my tomato assault/kitchen battle wound:
Ridiculous, I know.  

But anyways, happy eating and BE CAREFUL out there!


Melissa said...

This inspires me to put a panini press on my "kitchen investments" list!

Harper said...

I like how you're pointing at the giant red mark on your face....cause I might have missed it. Please be careful! I'm off to go make a panini :)

melissa said...

Two words: YUM & OUCH!

Hope your chin feels better soon!

Ms. Emily Ann said...

Yum! That looks delicious, but sorry about the burn! Yikes!

Thanks for the salmon recipe idea... I can't wait to try it out!!