Sunday, May 22, 2011

Panini in a Frying Pan

I'm kind of a sucker for a hot sandwich. Call it a Cubano, a Panini, a hot sub, hoagie or hero, I don't really care. Since I generally don't eat meat that is raised on factory farms, most of the delicious sounding sandwiches on a sandwich menu don't land on my plate. When eating out, I usually end up with a vegetarian sandwich, which I know is better for my health and the earth, but sometimes I really crave a little meat, which leads me to making a good hot sandwich at home. I don't own a panini press, just a couple of heavy skillets which double as a sandwich press.

In this panini I used Applegate Farms sliced turkey, a pesto and feta spread from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farms, spinach, and a little extra-sharp white cheddar. The bread is a ciabatta "stick" with roasted garlic from Chabaso bakery. I think it was a fortuitous day, since I don't often have this bread or pesto spread on hand, so this panini was a little more special than usual. One of my stand-by favorite sandwiches is apple, cheddar, dijon and spinach, with turkey or bacon if I have any.  (For a vegetarian alternative, try using smoked tempeh or "Fakin' Bacon".). Honestly just about any combination of tasty ingredients stuffed between two slices of bread and heated between two frying pans will yield delightful results!

One key technique to note is that you can wrap the sandwich in tin foil (butter the outside of the bread if you like) and then set it in a frying pan on medium heat and top with a second frying pan. You still get the nicely browned bread, but you can really press the sandwich without all the fillings falling out and making a mess. If you want more weigh try adding a large can to the top frying pan or pressing on the top pan once the sandwich is warm. Flip the wrapped sandwich over part way through, and cook and press the other side.
Some great sandwich spots: 
Blue State Coffee - New Haven- the menu I created for these cafes include sustainably raised meats and locally sourced ingredients. Try the fabulous grilled cheese with pear and dijon, or the turkey Sriracha with pickled red onions and avocado.
'wichcraft - in NYC - an amazing assortment of finely crafted ingredients and sandwiches from Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortuzar ( who I worked with briefly at Gramercy Tavern)
Num Pang - A wonderful Camobodian sandwich shop in NYC started by a good friend of mine, Ben Daitz and his partner, Ratha Chau. An inspired and delicious menu, and a line out the door to prove it.

Share some of your favorite sandwich combinations by commenting below!

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