How to make your own picture-perfect panini
Paninis are those delicious squished sandwiches you’ve probably ordered from your favorite upscale diner, but maybe never considered making at home. I know that was me for the longest time. Not any more. My favorite combos are, naturally, ham and swiss or turkey and cheddar. I also love using leftover grilled veggies. Here are some of my favorite tips!
First and foremost, it’s about the bread. Buy the softest baguette you can find. Even the frozen par baked baguettes are awesome (you just bake them first before using).
Next, it’s about how you grill up your panini. I’ve made them in panini makers, waffle irons, on the outside grill and in a sauté pan. Unsurprisingly, the panini maker works best, but the waffle iron is surprisingly good (just don’t push the lid down, otherwise it can pierce the bread).
Now it’s time to consider what amazing stuffings you want to make. I personally LOVE homemade mayonnaise and I’d suggest making up a batch (see the basic recipe below and all the variations) but don’t put the mayo on instead use it for dipping. Mayo can make things soggy and it can burn when it drips out of the panini.
Now, here’s something I totally stand by but I often get push back on — I think no matter how you grill your panini, it needs a little butter or, if you prefer, olive oil. This is essential.
I usually don’t put butter/oil on the bread when I first place the panini in the pan (or panini maker) because I like my panini insides super hot and by that time the butter can burn. Instead, I put a smear of butter on at the last minute. Since you are probably wondering how you do that when a baguette top can be quite round, you simply flip the top of the baguette upside down so the rounded part is on the inside and the flat part is on the outside.
And one thing to consider before you get going is to be careful about using ingredients that get soggy. I hardly ever put tomatoes or pimentos (roasted red bell peppers marinated in oil) in my panini unless I am planning to eat it right then and there. Instead I serve them the side. I do the same with the greens.
I like my panini pretty basic with simple details and above all, I try not to over stuff them because it’s a sad day when your panini falls apart. Follow these tips and enjoy! Homemade Mayonnaise
Makes about 1 1/2 cups 1 large very fresh egg 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt 1⁄2 teaspoon dry mustard powder 1 pinch sugar 1 pinch cayenne pepper 1 1⁄4 cups canola or other neutral oil 2 tablespoons white vinegar 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1⁄2 lemon), or to taste
Place the egg in a standing mixer and whip at medium speed until wellmixed. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, mustard powder, sugar and cayenne, and beat into the egg until well blended. Turn the blender to its highest speed and add 1⁄2 cup of the oil in a slow stream, until the mixture emulsifies and thickens. As it does so, you can add the oil more quickly.
Add the vinegar and continue blending. Add the remaining oil and continue blending. Taste carefully, and adjust the flavor by adding lemon juice or more vinegar, and beat until the mixture reaches mayonnaise consistency. Variations: Spicy Mayo: put in a few squeezes of your favorite hostage and adjust to your liking.
Horseradish: Beat in freshly grated or prepared horseradish to taste.
Aioli: Add the pulp of half a roasted head of garlic (or to taste) to the egg and proceed as above.
Herb Spread: After making the basic mayonnaise, beat in finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro, or rosemary.
Cooking at Home is a weekly column where Rebecca dishes on what she’s been making.