Everyone loves Panini – no question about it. Okay, I know it’s an exaggeration. Well, I guess it’s safe to say that almost everybody does. These hot (or warm), chunky meat and crispy vegetable-filled Italian sandwiches are a gastronomic delight to many people of all ages. It is no wonder why more and more homes and kitchens these days are not without even the simplest Panini maker.
The brand might be a Breville, Cuisinart, or Krupps; whatever it is, this cooking appliance is sure to churn out awesomely delicious treats for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And while I know that it is versatile, I haven’t been adventurous and just stick to what it does best – cook Paninis.
In my case, any given day is a Panini day. I love it over rice, noodle, soup, fried chicken, sea foods, and potatoes.
Isn’t it obvious that I just crave for Paninis? I wouldn’t mind having them for my everyday meal. When I am in a hurry, I grab ordinary bread slices or whatever bread that’s found on the table. Lay them on the hot press. Put in some cheese and meat, and voila – instant meal on the go.
In a hurry or not, I don’t mind spending a few minutes to heat up the Panini press grill. IThis is very important to ensure that everything is cooked and seared perfectly.
On the other hand, if I have time and my creative cooking juices are overflowing at the moment, I will not hesitate to whip up one that boasts of tasty fillings. My usual favorites are cheese with any of these meats, like turkey or chicken or even German sausages. Delicious!
My sandwich may lack in any other filing except cheese. This ingredient is a must – no question about it. No Panini of mine is complete without cheese of any type. My all-time favorite is cheddar, which I love because of its flavorful taste. I also love Edam if only for its rich yellow color. Mozzarella is also a fine choice. I add it if I want more gooeyness that children easily love. In some cases wherein I run out of these cheeses, I’ll simply sprinkle grated parmesan. Yummy as well!
Bread type is of little importance to me actually. So long as my grill is able to accommodate the slices and cook them until seared lines are created on the toasted surfaces, I’m fine with it.
American loaf is a perfect pick. It’s available everywhere – at the corner bakeshop, bread section of the grocery, or even the local convenience store.
But if I want something that’s Italian and want to try impressing a guest or two, I’ll make use of some ciabatta or focaccia. Sourdough is also a great option. In fact, I’ve made used of this variety more than the other two, primarily because the nearest bread shop never runs out of it.
What I look for in the bread, actually, is that it should be thick and dense. Such qualities allow it to hold and complement well whatever fillings I use.
If I’m really starving, then any normal sliced bread will do. But if I do have time to make a tasty creation – I’ll go a good sourdough. I’ll cut 4 slices, each of which is about ½ inches thick. This will make me a totally filling meal. By the way, the reason why I prefer sourdough is that my Panini press always creates beautiful seared lines on it, making the final result a lot more appealing gastronomically.
Cheese must be of excellent quality – I make sure of this especially if I have kids to which will share my Panino. No molds definitely –otherwise, I run to the grocery to get one fresh off the shelf. To ensure that meat – I love to use salami or ham – is fresh as well – I ask for expert advice from the deli man. I tell him I have a Panini party for kids and so it’s imperative that the meat I buy is the freshest.
And so I get one that’s without even a bit of sliminess, with the meat firm and evenly colored. The deli man always obliges. But, I’m sure he’s somewhat surprised of the countless children’s parties I had thrown away.
When it comes to the veggies – lettuce is on top of the list. Tomato is also a great addition. Actually, I make use of whatever fresh, leafy and bright-colored vegetable that’s present in the counter top.
At the same time that you start to heat up the appliance, I layer my salami (or ham, turkey on the bread). Afterwards, I add in the lettuce and al its crispiness. If I want to make a much healthier treat, I put in some tomato, onion, and cucumber slices. I top everything with some Edam or cheddar, enough slices to cover everything.
As the press becomes hot, it’s time to put the fillings into the bread. I make sure first that the two surfaces are brushed with oil, either olive or canola or even margarine. Even when I close down the plate, I check on the sandwich from time to time to ensure it doesn’t get burned.
After seeing that the cheese has melted and bread is perfectly brown, I am ready to remove it from the Panini grill. I allow it to cool a bit since it will be super hot if taken from the plate. I am now ready to make that first bite. Yummy! I have a delicious and healthful meal to enjoy.
If you want to be a hit with the kids, then start working on becoming a expert, albeit it’s easy to be one especially if you have a quality maker. My kids just love Panino. They always enjoy watching (with wide-opened eyes at that) as you cook like they’re seeing magic performed before their very eyes. Every time, it seems they’re always ready to grab away from me the bread that I hold and do the layering of fillings and pressing themselves.
I am just amazed with how kids just love to eat Paninis. Maybe the simple trick is to use their favorite ingredients, and see to that the sandwiches are perfectly cooked and served hot. These bread treats just always make them adore me all the more.
Without a doubt, Panini is one darn great food that you can have, whether you need to take down energy-laden meal to start a day or a light yet satisfying dinner to cap off the evening.
So there, I’ve narrated my personal experience and enjoyment of this sandwich. I don’t think that there is any other meal that matches my craving for this food. Actually, just doing this article and the mere thought of it make my mouth water and make me want to head to the kitchen and heat up my Panini maker. But on second thought, maybe I’ll just go to the nearest café and deli shop for this hot and toasted bread treat instead.