Test Kitchen – The Perfect Panini

On April 18, 2010, in Test Kitchen, by satnightfoodies

One thing that people may not know about me is I have actually worked in a kitchen. When I was younger I worked my way from dishwasher to sous chef and then to manage my own kitchen. The only problem was that I was too young and burnt out after years of 60+ hour weeks. The restaurant business is a tough one. However cooking and food are a part of me. About 5 years ago it started to get fun again. Maybe it is because I have a kitchen with enough room to work that I enjoy, or maybe it was just time.

I have had dreams about opening my own place. It would not be anything fancy but it would be a fun place with a fully stocked bar and serve food that had big flavors. It would be a lot of work and take a lot of money. I am not sure I want that kind of pressure or risk at this point in my life. But who knows maybe down the road it will happen.

Like I said I have been playing again for the last five years. As a silly project I am working on a cookbook. Kim and I made one for our friends and family a couple of years back and it was a hit. It was a collection of family recipes and some of our own. The twist was we modified every single recipe with our own touches. To me that is what you should do with a recipe. Recipes are “guidelines” and are there to make sure you have a basic understanding of how a dish is put together. Hmmm…. that must be the reason I cannot bake! Baking is the opposite of that. Baking is much more a science as cooking is an art!

The fun thing about this next book is I have NO idea what I want it to be about. I have a ton of ideas but right now it is more about me experimenting in the kitchen and having fun.

For this session the subject was Paninis. Since I have been working on this blog all I ever hear about are grilled cheese sandwiches, sliders and so forth. Why not try working on the best Panini. Or is it really a grilled cheese done in a Panini press. Not sure, technically a grilled cheese is bread, butter and cheese. These days you can find all kinds of grilled cheeses. A Panini (or Panino) by definition is an Italian sandwich made usually with vegetables, cheese, and grilled or cured meat on a roll like ciabatta. I still have no idea because I made these with slices of bread! At this time I am calling them Panini. Maybe someone will let me know if this is correct or not.

We got ourselves a very nice Panini press, loaded up at the store and went to town. Here are the works that I have come up with so far. A few are similar but have tweaks as I work to get the best three to four different sandwiches. One thing to know about making a Panini and cooking in general, once you understand what ingredients work together it is pretty simple. One thing I learned a long time ago, don’t over think it. If you mess up you toss it and start over. A lot of the time you will create something unexpected that will delight you.


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