Jun 12, 2012

Chicken Pesto Panini

Father’s Day is rapidly approaching and nothing makes a man smile on this day more then a hot, cheese sandwich, A.K.A- the Panini. Gluttony is the name of the game for this one day (well, maybe your Birthday too... and every major Holiday… and, come to think of it, Sundays as well) so treat your Dad on this special day.

Now, the Panini is considered a pressed sandwich everywhere but in Italy where it is known as a Panino. You have to give it to the Italians and there unique use of bread... Working in the firehouse (your home kitchen as well), I’m sure you won’t have the luxury of having a Panini press, so I’ll show you how to work around it using common cast iron pans. I lean towards cast iron pans for the heat retention and weight (and they are just about the best thing to own in your kitchen when properly seasoned). But, alas, no classic grill marks.

I’ve added chicken breast and pesto to this recipe but the Panini encompasses just about any protein and cheese. I added roasted red peppers here as well but tomatoes are an awesome replacement and what I typically prefer but I was craving the brine from the peppers. When cooking for the crew (in bulk), you can skip the whole “pressing” and just bake them en mass on a baking sheet in the oven (350°F) till the cheese has melted. Enjoy!

Chicken Pesto Panini - A great hot, cheesy sandwich just in time for Father's Day, the classic Panini, firehouse style! In this episode, we discuss Bolillos, cast iron pans and chicken (it's what's for dinner). Happy Father's Day Dad!

Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


Chicken Breast (4-5 either sliced in half or pounded out to ½”)
Pesto (½ Cup)
Mozzarella Cheese (Sliced)
Bread Rolls (8-10 Ciabatta or Bolillos Rolls)
Mayonnaise (1-2 Tbs.)
Liquid Smoke (1 tsp.)
Roasted Red Peppers (Julienned)
Pepper and Salt


Panini Press or two large and heavy Cast Iron Pans
*Grill (Optional)
Small Bowl
Bread Knife


Heat the Grill set to high for 10-15 minutes if using a Gas Grill or heat up 2-3 cups charcoal to an ashen color if using a traditional Charcoal Grill. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature (20 - 30 minutes), season with EVOO, pepper and salt, then place directly over the heat and cook 3-5 minutes each side. Remove and reserve. Meanwhile, place the two cast iron pans on medium-high heat and allow them the heat up (5 minutes). Place the pesto, mayo and liquid smoke in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place the pesto mix on both sides of the bread roll, season with pepper and salt, then add the chicken breast, cheese and bell pepper. Place the prepared sandwich on one of the cast iron pans then carefully place the other heated cast iron pan allowing the weight of the pan to “press”. Cook until the cheese melts. Slice in half and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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