Italy's greatest cultural export in the last decade has been the seductively simple, yet flavor bursting pressed sandwiches known as panini. Traditionally found in cafes, bars and trattorias from Firenze to Napoli, Venezia to Turino, the popularity of the Italian panini has surged across Europe and recently to North American shores.
Panini is simply the Italian name for sandwich*, however it is almost always used in reference to sandwiches that are placed in a two-sided cooking press that compresses and grills the sandwich until hot and toasted.
Unlike an American style sandwich cooker or pie iron, a Panini Press is not designed to crimp the bread of the sandwich. Rather, the goal is to uniformly compress the sandwich as it toasts without the ingredients or bread being trimmed by the edge of the cooker. The end result of cooking in a Panini Press is a sandwich with a surprising depth of flavor and layered composition.
Using expressive and fresh ingredients are key to the traditional panini sandwich. This starts with quality artisan bread such as ciabatta rolls, foccacia or baguette - sliced open and filled with your choice of vegetables, cheese or meats. Once the sandwich is composed, lightly oil the outside of the bread, place in the Panini Press, close the latch and place over medium heat (stovetop, campfire or barbeque grills - charcoal or gas.) After about 4 minutes, flip the Panini Press and continue
cooking for another 4 minutes or until the sandwich is hot and toasted. Cooking time varies with the bread and ingredients used so just use this as a guideline and after you've made a few panini you'll develop a feeling for the cooking time.
Panini can vary from the simple prosciutto, mozzarella & tomato to more complex recipes that involve prep cooking such as chicken breast with roasted red peppers and pesto mayonnaise (remember that all uncooked meat such as chicken must be precooked before using in a sandwich.) The diversity in ingredients, experimentation and creativity used in conjunction with such a simple cooking device is what makes using a Panini Press so fulfilling.
Remember that the idea is not to overwhelm the sandwich with too many ingredients, but to focus on the balance of flavors and textures that you want to bring out when the panini is pressed and toasted.Rome's Panini Press makes cafe style Italian sandwiches with ease. To use simply place your sandwich inside the open cavity of the cooker, close the lid and place on a BBQ grill or stovetop burner. After a few minutes flip the panini press over and continue cooking until the sandwich is hot and toasted. <p>Made from solid cast iron and features a generous 8" x 4" cooking surface for use with a wide variety of specialty breads.
The only panini press available for use on a BBQ or Stovetop.
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