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Panini Perfection – Ingredients & Technique

Panini-Perfection-Ingredients-Technique
Panini-Perfection-Ingredients

Panini Perfection – Ingredients

Perfect panini are easy for anyone to make. Success really depends on using the best-quality ingredients that you can find.

Panini Perfection – IngredientsBread. Bread Bread is the foundation of every panino, from the crunchy, toasted exterior to the soft interior. Shop for herbed focaccia, rustic country loaves, fresh baguettes, challah or brioche, and petite rolls. Think about flavor, from tangy sourdough to rye, seeds to whole grains, even walnuts or olives.

Panini Perfection – IngredientsCheese. Cheese holds it all together. Choose good semi-firm melting cheeses, which respond well to heat. Aged mozzarella and provolone are the Italian staples; cheddar and Gruyere are solid contenders. But don’t overlook spreadable fresh cheeses, luscious triple creams, and boldly flavored blues.

Panini Perfection – Ingredients -Meats & Seafood. Meats and Seafood Pick up high-quality deli meats like sliced turkey, ham, corned beef, or pastrami, and seek out charcuterie such as mortadella, salami, capicola, or prosciutto. Roasted pork or grilled steak and chicken breasts can all be thinly sliced for stacking. Fry up bacon or sausages, or for a lighter meal, use fresh seafood such as salmon, tuna, prawns, or crabmeat.

Panini Perfection – IngredientsVeggies. Veggies layer in freshness and crunch with vegetables, from juicy tomatoes and tender greens to slices of roasted eggplant, zucchini, and bell pepper. Tuck a few Italian tricks away in the pantry: jarred roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, spicy peppercini, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Panini Perfection – IngredientsFruits. Fruits swap out vegetables for fruit, especially those that pair well with cheese. Crisp autumn apples and pears love a sharp cheddar or Stilton. Summer stone fruits such as nectarines, peaches, and plums make sweet companions to soft Brie or roasted pork, and pineapple rings caramelize gorgeously on the grill.

Panini Perfection – IngredientsSpreads. Spreads add another boost of flavor. Try creamy remoulade, garlicky
aioli, briny tapenade, or basil or cilantro pesto. For a sweet note, try fig jam or quince paste, or even a dollop of chutney.


Panini-Perfection-Ingredients-Technique

Panini Perfection – Ingredients & Technique

You’ve lined up some quality ingredients, and it’s time to stack and press. With these tips and tricks, anyone can craft panini like a maestro.

Panini Perfection – TechniqueHow to stack.
Strive for the perfect ratio of bread to filling-not too scant, but not too much of a mouthful. Cheese should go first, then layer meats or veggies in more or less equal parts. Consider flavor and moisture as you go. This is where herbs and spreads come into play, and a judicious slice of tomato here or a swipe of salsa verde there can go a long way.

Panini Perfection – Ingredients & TechniqueGo for Gooey
A good melting cheese (see page 8) and plenty of it is the key to holding a panino together in all of its gooey glory. Cheese should go directly next to the bread, helping to create cohesion with the surrounding ingredients. Two layers, one next to each bread slice, works best. Depending on the spread, you can also layer cheese on one side and spread on the other.

Panini Perfection – Ingredients & TechniqueCommit to Crispy
Once fully stacked, you can press panini just as they are, but the savvy cook will quickly brush some oil or butter on the outside of the bread. A fruity olive oil or creamy butter adds flavor, and helps to toast the bread to a golden finish.

Panini Perfection – Ingredients & TechniqueFire it Up
Preheat the press, skillet, or grill so that the bread sizzles on impact. Electric presses will automatically heat to a set temperature, and some have a light to indicate when they’re ready. If using a frying pan or grill, it’s up to you to maintain the right level. Aim for medium to medium-high heat, and be ready to adjust the heat during cooking.

Panini Perfection – Ingredients & TechniqueSmash it Down
Don’t be afraid to press it! It’s what separates pan1n1 from their cold counterparts. For the prettiest grill marks, set the sandwiches down at an angle to the ridges, and try to resist nudging or peeking. Halfway through cooking, rotate the sandwiches go degrees to create a crosshatched pattern.


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