I'm not a fan of fad equipment. I have an immersion blender, not because it was the coolest thing on the Williams~Sonoma catalogue, but because I used one (a very large one) for years in my commercial kitchens. I still use a percolator for my coffee most mornings, and It took me years to buy my first food processor. I don't see the sense in buying, what ends up being, a very expensive piece of equipment that does one thing... and one thing only... usually not very well.
The panini press is just one of those things. All powered up and shiny, they'll cost you something short of two and a half bucks And, the non-electric version at W~S or Le Creuset will run you around $85.00... ... .. . . . it's a piece of cast iron with a handle..
... no thank you.
With a press you want 2 basic things -
1.) something that will create nifty little crunchy nooks and crannies. And
2.) something with some weight to it that will provide evenly distributed heat to both sides of the sandwich at the same time.
Look around in your kitchen... what piece of equipment do you already have that does that...
go ahead... I'll wait...
|here's a hint... |
it's one of these.
|and it'll make these..|
The trick to doing any sort of pressed - grilled sandwich is the bread, loaf bread just wont do. You will need a hearty textured, heavily structured bread like a Tuscan, or whip up one of those no-knead dutch oven breads - they will work best.
Cabra/ Roma /Parma Waffle Paninis
for 2 sandwiches
You will need:
4 Slices Hearty Tuscan Bread
8 Slices Parma / Prosciutto / or Westphalia Ham
2 Roma Tomatoes - Sliced
4 Ounces Formaggio Cabra - Sliced Thin
4 Basil Leaves
Pickled Carrots (See Below)
Dry Cured Olives
Olive Oil Spray (its next to the Cooking Sprays)
Plug in the waffle iron and heat to full temperature
Brush the inside of the bread with a light coating of oil
Layer the cheese evenly on all slices of bread
Lay 2 slices of ham and top with one of the sliced roma tomatoes
Top with a basil leaf and carefully close the sandwich with the remaining cheese layered slice
Spray both irons of the waffle maker with olive oil spray and carefully place each compiled sandwich on the bottom griddle
Close the lid and press down so that everything is compacted between the two slices of bread
Now, leave it alone - allow the timer to cook for a full 3 minutes before opening the waffle iron
Check for a nice golden brown color (continue to cook for another 1 min - max if it isn't quite toasty enough)
Remove, Cut the sandwiches in half and serve with pickled carrots and a few dry cured olives.
from Gourmet Magazine
1 Pound Baby Carrots
1 1/4 Cups Water
1 Cup Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Cloves Garlic - Cracked
1 1/2 Tablespoons Dill Seed
1 1/2 Salt
2 Pint Containers
Medium Non-Reactive Bowl
4 Qt Saucepan
Blanch carrots in a 4-quart nonreactive saucepan of boiling salted water 1 minute, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
Transfer carrots to a heatproof bowl.
Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.
Pour pickling liquid over carrots and cool, uncovered.
Chill carrots, covered, at least 1 day for flavors to develop.