Thursday, August 21, 2003

Foreman Grilled Panini Recipe

Panini are hot. And I don't just mean hot as in "toasted-sandwich-don't-burn-your-fingers" hot I mean trendy hot. How do I know? Well for one thing the Target ad in the Sunday Chronicle featured a panini press for sale. Also this past week NY Metro did a story on Mario Batali on a "NY panini-bar crawl" and the same article lists a dozen panini restaurants in and around NY. And if that's not all, McDonald's has announced it is opening up a new gourmet concept restaurant called Chef Mac's in New Orleans that will serve Louisiana shrimp, po-boys, muffulettas, barbecue chicken, as well as--do I have to say it? Panini.

So what is a panino anyway? If you look up the term you'll find it refers to a type of bread or roll. But in Italy a panino is a sandwich (panini is plural). A flat toasted crispy sandwich. I watched Sara Moulton on the Food Network show Cooking Live demonstate one way these sandwiches are made. She took a baguette and sliced it lengthwise and turning it inside out she filled it with slices of cheese and stuck it on an electric panini press. As she talked about buying a machine for her summer home, it occured to me that a George Foreman grill ought to do the job nicely.

Amy's George Foreman Grilled Panini-style Sandwich

ciabatta, baguette or other type of crusty bread
sliced cheese(mozzarella, jack, etc.)
sliced tomato
basil leaves
olive oil spray
(note:amounts should be based on how hungry you are or how many sandwiches you plan on making)

Preheat an electric grill. Slice your bread lengthwise to make a top and a bottom piece. Flip the bread so the outside crust is on the inside and the soft bread is on the outside. (you may have to slice the bread completely to achieve this) Place sliced cheese of your choice inside the sandwich. Spray both top and bottom with olive oil cooking spray. Place carefully in the grill and give it a little press to make sure the bread toasts and compacts. After a few minutes, when the bread is toasted and the cheese is melty remove, slide in between the bread slices thinly sliced fresh tomato and basil leaves if you have them. Press the 2 halves together. Slice in half.