Who needs a panini press?

IMG_0534A few years ago, electric panini presses were all the rage.  Cuisinart, Breville, Hamilton Beach—all the “kitchen electrics” manufacturers came out with floating-hinge, contact grills designed to toast and press sandwiches.  I resisted the urge to buy one, as my present kitchen has so little storage space, and I dislike single-use appliances (exception granted for the espresso machine).  Still, who doesn’t love a good pressed sandwich?  A fridge full of leftover roasted pork had me craving Cuban sandwiches, so I decided to improvise.

To get the crisp, flattened texture of a good Cuban, a fairly heavy press is required.  Merely mashing on the layered sandwich, even with a sturdy metal spatula, won’t compress the bread into a crisp shell.  What I needed was some serious heft…..

IMG_0531Le Creuset to the rescue.  Turns out that a 3-quart, oval enameled cast iron pot is the ideal shape and size to press sandwiches.  Simply butter (or oil) the bottom lightly, and place the pot atop a griddle to heat.  When the butter starts to sizzle, insert a sandwich. A few minutes per side and a bit of gentle pressure just after turning yields toasty, crusty results (see above).

No need to buy a specialized, single-use appliance.  A good, heavy pot did the trick.

7 thoughts on “Who needs a panini press?

  1. I don’t remember how I first came upon your blog, but I surely do enjoy it. It is always a pleasant surprise to find a new entry in my email. I always learn a new trick, get a great idea or have a smile. Thank you!

  2. Great idea! I have an old Le Creuset Dutch oven that fits perfectly into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. The Le Creuset can be heated in the skillet and then used to press the sandwich. Thanks for the idea!

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