We all know that pizza and pasta are the most popular Italian dishes that the whole world loves. But the Italian cuisine doesn’t stop here, having so much more to offer in terms of traditional delicious recipes. And one of the best examples at this chapter has to be the seemingly simple homemade panini. If this is the first time you hear this term, we’re talking about a delicious sandwich made from a special bread for panini (there are quite a lot of options to discuss here), specific to the Italian cuisine, that is usually grilled or toasted, and served warm. It might not sound that complicated, but there is a whole process, some may even call it an art, and a lot of debate floating around how to make a panini that actually stands up to Italian standards. So, how do you make a panini that can be served to all your Italian friends, with no shame? Let’s start from the beginning…
What Bread to Use for Panini
Unlike your regular sandwich, when it comes to homemade panini, every ingredient plays an equally important part and should be chosen very carefully. You might think that this is just bread, meat, and cheese, but you have to understand how to pick and combine each element in part, in order to deliver a truly gourmet panini. Remember how we said, that special bread for panini will be needed? Well, it’s not that you will need a special type of bread, in fact, you can choose from so wide array of available alternatives. What’s more important, is the type of sandwich you are aiming to create, so let us give you some clear examples.
If you intend to make a dry sandwich, then the type of bread for panini that you are looking for should be wither multigrain, thick-cut sourdough, pita, thin-cut sourdough, challah, rye bread, pita, or even thin-sliced artisan bread. These are all viable candidates for making panini.
However, if are trying to make a panini at home that’s wet, your best options would be ciabatta, baguette, thick-cut sourdough, focaccia, hard rolls, or even thick-cut artisan bread.
But you won’t know how to make a panini sandwich perfect, before mastering the right ingredients and their ratio. Once again, the end result that you are aiming for also plays a major part. One of the best panini recipes ever has to be the chicken sandwich. For this, you can use Havarti cheese, chicken file, and frozen spinach. Consider investing in the best panini press available on the market, and the result will put even veteran cooks to shame. Now, the second-best recipe out there is the grilled ham Gruyere panini. For your fillings, you will have obviously need to use Gruyere cheese, which is a Swiss specialty, sweet ham, and just a pinch of salt, to perfectly balance the spiciness of the cheese with the sweetness of the meat. But the undisputed champion remains the classic Italian panini. Nothing beats the original recipe, for which you will have to mix together eggs and milk in order to dip the sandwich in it. You will need one fresh roll of focaccia, 100g of prosciutto freshly sliced and preferably di Parma, 1 tbs marinated mushrooms, 2 slices grilled eggplant, 3 slices fontina or provolone cheese, and of course, extra virgin olive oil.
How to Make a Panini with a Panini Maker
Regardless of your skills inside the kitchen up to date, or your ability to reproduce complicated recipes, you will never be able to learn how to cook a panini to perfection without a great panini press. Using one of these will make the entire process considerably faster, and at the same time, way easier. Of course, getting the best panini press that your money can buy will also add significantly to the quality of the end result. So, the first thing you need to do is hear up the press for around 7 minutes. Once you have assembled the sandwich, place it in the panini maker, press down the lid gently, and let it cook for a few minutes. When the bread will be all crisped up and the cheese will have melted, usually after 5-7 minutes, or so, remove the sandwich and let it sit for a short while.
How to Make a Panini without a Press
But if you don’t have one of these fancy presses available and you’re asking yourself how to make a panini without a panini maker, don’t despair, there are alternatives! Not as great as a press, but still, the best electric grill on the market can still get the job done. Go for the best infrared grill you can find, and you’ll stand all the chances of getting close to perfection. And don’t worry, the process is not that different either. First, assemble your sandwich, then wrap it up nice and tight in aluminum foil. Turn the grill to medium heat, and leave the panini to cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Every once in awhile, press it down with a spatula, and after the 6-7 minutes, voilà – a worthy contender to the real Italian deal.
And this is pretty much all you need to know how to make a panini at home. All of us here at MyKitchenAdvisor hope that you savor this brief introspection into the art & craft behind the notorious Italian recipe and that you will not forget to take its essential guidelines back home with you, straight to the kitchen. You are now ready to have your first go at making panini, good luck, and Bon Appétit!