(Quick Italian Toasted Sandwich)
“Panini” or, more properly, “panino” means sandwich in Italian. We most often think of it as a toasted sandwich, and by using the Le Creuset Grill Pan and Panini Press you can replicate this very popular Italian quick meal.
Ciabetta rolls are perfect for these sandwiches (you slice off the domed top then slice the roll in half horizontally) however any firm bread (not thin-sliced) will work. A little good olive oil is drizzled over the bottom half of the roll then you lightly layer with any number of cured meats: prosciutto de Parma, thin-sliced salami, mortadella, thinly sliced cooked meats such as pork, beef, and chicken - or fabulous bresaola. Top this with thin (1/4 inch) slices of ripe tomatoes and even thinner slices of fresh mozzarella, Fontina, goat cheese, even shavings of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano. While combinations such as those are common, a roasted vegetable panino is delicious!
For the Rapido, simply buy a cooked chicken from the market and thinly slice the meat. Spread the bottom half with a little purchased pesto (the fresh version from the dairy case is preferable to the jarred) or perhaps sun-dried tomato paste. Top with thin slices of dark and white chicken meat (the ideal panini aren’t bulging with ingredients), then layer on thin slices of your choice of cheese and perhaps a slice of tomato and a few arugula leaves. Then toast - see below - and enjoy.
To Use the Skillet and Press
Put the Grill Pan and the Press, together, on a stovetop burner/elements and preheat, empty, for about 6 - 8 minutes. Remove the pre-heated press from the grill and set aside on a trivet or on another heat proof dish. Place up to two sandwiches side by side on the preheated grill; use the press and a bit of pressure to compress the sandwiches. After pressing Italian sandwiches should be about 1” thick.
Cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the cheese melted. With a little practice to get the timing right, and some imagination in choosing the fillings, you’ll be a “panini whiz.”