Grilled Chicken with Tomato & Mozzarella Panini Sandwich Posted by: | June 25, 2010
 

I know I haven’t been blogging for ages. And I apologize for that. Trust me, there are nights that I woke up in cold sweat, freaking out that I would lose you readers because of my hiatus period. I might have exaggerated a bit. But there was not a day that went by in the past few weeks that I did not miss or think about cooking. So what was I doing? I wrapped up a huge work event after about 3 weeks preparation, had my birthday (a rather uneventful one as it fell on the first day of the event), and celebrated my post-birthday with some close friends over quiet dinner last weekend. Knowing I’ve been eyeing a couple of high-tech kitchen appliances, my friends gave me a 250 dollar voucher to go knock myself out at the department store. And I did the very next day. I got myself the awesome Cuisinart Griddler which had been the center of most of my recent kitchen fantasies. I now finally can make my favorite type of sandwiches, Panini, which is a typical Italian grilled sandwich with beautiful grill-marks and melted cheese and tasty olive oil marinated sliced meats. And just like how I had imagined it, the process of grilling the sandwiches with this griddler was just so fun and fast! Within minutes, I had beautiful and crispy pressed sandwiches. I can foresee lots of Panini sandwiches to come in my home. I even bought a Panini recipe book! The possibilities are endless now. Welcome to my Deli!

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So for my first ever homemade Panini, I used all my favorite ingredients: Focaccia bread, Chicken, Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil leaves. You can’t go wrong with all that good stuff! Preparation time was minimal, if I hadn’t spent 20 minutes circling around my Griddler figuring out how to operate it. It’s actually quite simple, had I read the manual earlier. The next time I make Panini, I will attempt to bake my own bread for it to have maximum freshness and taste.  It should be amazing.

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Grilled Chicken with Tomato & Mozzarella Panini Sandwich (adapted from “Panini” by Melanie Barnard)

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INGREDIENTS (serves 4 or makes 4 sandwiches):

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  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or paprika powder (if you don’t want it to be too hot)
  • boneless chicken breast cutlets: 4 pieces, pounded evenly to about 1/2 inch thick.
  • 1 loaf of Foccacia bread, divided into 4 pieces and halve each piece horizonally
  • 125g Mozzarella cheese (or more, if you prefer more cheesy goodness, like me)
  • 8 thin slices of ripe & firm tomatoes
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves
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METHOD:

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1. Make the chicken marinate: In a large dish or bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, zest and garlic, salt, and paprika powder. Whisk the marinate to mix well. Remove 1 tablespoon from the mixture. Place the chicken into the bowl /dish and turn to coat the marinate. Let stand for about 15 minutes to marinate, or you could cover and refrigerate for up to an hour or so.

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2. Preheat the sandwich grill at High. Remove the chicken from the marinate and let the marinate drip off. Arrange the cutlets in the grill evenly, then close the top plate and cook until gorlden grill marks appear and the chicken is cooked throughout, for about 5 minutes.

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3. Keep the griddler on and clean the grill plates of any resedue chicken juices and garlic pieces. Brush the crust sides of the bread with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and brush the cut sides with the reserved 1 tablespoon marinade. On each of the 2 focaccia slices, place 2 slices of mozzarella cheese, 1 cooked chicken cutlet, 2 tomato slices, 3 basil leaves, and another 2 slices of mozzarella on top. Top with 2 focaccia pieces, marinade sides down, and place into the griddle. Press the griddle lid tightly onto the sandwich to flatten it while grilling it. This might push the sandwiches outward if they are thick, so just keep lifting the lid to push the sandwiches back into center, and press the top plate on them again.

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After a few minutes, they should take shape and stop shifting. That is when the flavours will start melting and infuse into each other. Keep pressing for another few minutes, until the cheese has melted. and the bread is golden and toasted. It will smell wonderful and look like this:

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Repeat the process with the remaining 2 sandwiches. Serve right away while it’s hot!

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I gobbled 2 sandwiches within 10 minutes. It tasted so good it made the Mac Cafe sandwich I had last weekend seem like a joke. The bread plays a great role so remember to choose the best fresh bread you can find. Focaccia herb bread goes really well with this particular recipe.

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That’s it for now. Next on the menu for my Griddler: Beef Burgers! Meanwhile, I will continue to research for recipes for my Griddler. Love it to bits!

 

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