This is one of those meals I’ve been making since hubby and I got married, and which has only improved over the years as I’ve learned more about cooking. I used to go to one of the few bakeries around here, which only sells a few different kinds of bread, and get the wide Italian loaf. I’d cut it up, make the panini, and cook them on a skillet, trying to squish them down as hard as I could with a spatula. We’d invariably have to stick them in the microwave for a few minutes afterward to melt the cheese, since the bread would be brown long before that. They were okay – certainly not great.
Oh, how much I’ve learned since then.
Now, I make my own bread. I’m still in the experimenting stage; I’m trying to find the bread I like the most for these delicious grilled sandwiches. This weekend, I made ciabatta bread, and it was pretty darn good. I mean, look at it:
It’s Peter Reinhart’s ciabbata bread from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I was going to detail the long process of creating it, but since I already used up most of my patience making the bread, I decided to link you to the book instead.
I could eat it all day dipped in olive oil…but I won’t. Maybe.
Anyway, back to the panini. It also helps tremendously to have the right equipment. This past Christmas, one of hubby’s brothers got me a nice, big George Foreman grill for Christmas. Now, no more squishing sandwiches with spatulas. And no more microwaving!
Here’s everything you’ll need for the chicken panini:
- 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- Baby spinach
- 1 tomato
- 8 oz fresh mozzerella cheese
- 1 clove finely minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Your favorite bread
First, cook the chicken. I cut mine into small pieces and fried them up on the stove, but you can prepare it any way you like. Just be sure to shred it afterward, so it’ll be easier to get on the panini.
Slice up the bread, and then slice up the tomato and cheese.
Make the “sauce.” Mix together the olive oil and garlic, and use a brush to coat the inside of the sandwich bread.
Pile everything on the bread…
…and top with another piece of garlic-coated bread. Now, you’re ready to grill.
Spray the grill with cooking spray. Grill for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread is brown and toasty and the cheese is melted!