To help celebrate Grilled Cheese Month and to join in Panini Happy’s Grilled Cheese Pageant and because I just had a craving for a dish like this, I decided to make an indulgent, grilled cheese sandwich filled with scrambled eggs.
For dinner last night, I made baked chicken breasts coated with bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. Since I had leftovers today, I decided to fire up my panini grill. I had fresh mozarella, spinach and mushrooms all on hand, so I figured I’d convert the leftover chicken into a Chicken-Parmesan sandwich.
First, here’s how to make the chicken breasts. This is an easy, family-friendly, relatively healthy dish:
Parmesan and Breadcrumb Crusted Chicken Breasts
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup milk
8 Tbsp of bread crumbs
8 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Spray small baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour milk onto a plate or into a dredging pan. Mix bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper and pour onto a plate or into a dredging pan (or use a zip lock bag). Dip a chicken in the milk, then dredge in bread crumb mixture and dust off excess. Place breasts in pan and bake for 25 minutes, (flipping halfway through) or until golden brown and opaque all the way through.
To make the Panini:
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup sliced raw mushrooms
pinch of garlic pepper
1/4 cup Tomato-basil sauce from a jar
A smattering of raw baby spinach leaves
1 chicken breast prepared as above, cut into pieces that fit on your bread
Thick slices of fresh mozarella (I used 3 – 4 oz)
1. Preheat panini press to medium high heat. Heat olive oil is small sautée pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Mushrooms should never enter a pan quietly. There should be a sizzle. Sautée until liquid is released and mushrooms are starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. To assemble the panini: Slice bread in half and smear tomato sauce on both halves of the bread. Add a layer of spinach to the bottom. Then lay chicken breast on top of the spinach, the mushrooms on top of the chicken and the mozzarella on top of that. Top with other slice of bread and put sandwich in the panini press. Adjust the temperature so as not to burn the bread while you are heating the sandwich enough for the mozarella to melt. Because the sandwich was so thick, it took 15 minutes for the cheese to melt adequately.
Tools I used for this dish are available at Amazon.com:
While Americans often refer to a grilled sandwich as a Panini, when we say “panini,” we’re actually using the Italian word for “small bread rolls” (in the plural). Panino is the singular and “panino imbottito” is the phrase used for “stuffed panino” or sandwich. So this posting should be titled, Panino Imbottito with Ham, Cheese, and Fig Jam,” but I’m not that imbottito with myself (i.e. full of myself). Or am I?
After cooking with figs last week, I had a hankering to use the fig jam I purchased awhile back at the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine and olive oil tasting center.
Fig jam is pretty sweet, so it’s a great counterpoint to the salty, black forest ham that I’m using in this sandwich. If you don’t live near Sonoma, you can purchase fig jam at Amazon.com. I’ve added a link to the right to make it easy to find.
I’m going to be using my Cuisinart Griddler Gourmet which can function as an indoor grill or a panini press or open up into a griddle. You can use a frying pan right on the stove and just put a heavy lid on top of the sandwich. I do love my “griddler gourmet” though and use it a lot more than I thought I would.
For this sandwich, I purchased Black Forest Ham. In the US, that term doesn’t mean as much as it does in Europe, where Black Forest Ham is a protected designation and therefore is required to come from the Black Forest in Germany. I know that the ham I’m buying has a spicy, sharp flavor that I like. A Virginia ham, or Smithfield ham would also work well for this sandwich because of its salty and strong flavor, but a honey-cured ham might prove too sweet to pair with fig jam.
I’ve also chosen a Jarslberg Cheese. It’s a Norwegian cheese in the Swiss Emmentaler-style family of cheeses. It’s less sharp than Emmentaler, which satisfies my personal taste, while still providing that tangy counterpoint to the other flavors in the sandwich.
This photo shows the amount of jam I chose to use. The La Brea French loaf is nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Most panini you find in Italian cafés are made with Ciabatta and when made properly, chefs use the whole loaf, splitting it horizontally. The loaf I chose was too big to do that, so I cut slices off of it.
I added some iceberg lettuce to the sandwich because that was what I had on hand. You might choose something with a little more bite, like arugula. (I love that arugula is called Rocket in the UK).
I grilled the sandwich under medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. I really wanted the cheese to melt without burning the bread, so I watched the sandwich carefully.
This was a thoroughly satisfying sandwich. To make it even richer, you can add butter or brush olive oil on the outside of the bread so that it browns even more as it grills. You could also use Salami rather than Ham. This version is a nice, relatively lite (I used low fat Jarlsberg cheese and there is no mayonnaise or aioli) sandwich. Buon Apetite!