A panini press is a kitchen gadget that I’ve never invested in to try to ward off kitchen bloat. Most times when I’m making a hot sandwich it’s some sort of grilled cheese and I just cook it in a large skillet.
But for this sandwich, I really did need the pressing effect. The sandwich is really thick and needs to be compacted down a bit and pressed in a hot environment.
I figured out a special contraption using what I had (cast iron skillet) to get the job done, so even if you don’t have a panini press, you can make this sucker. If you DO have a panini press, you have zero excuse to not make this sandwich!
1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have a panini press, preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven as well.
2) Roughly chop chicken. Grate cheese, slice the apple thin and squeeze lemon juice over the apples.
3) Take four large slices of thick sourdough bread and lightly butter one side of each piece. Divide the chicken and cheese between two pieces of bread with buttered side down.
4) Top cheese with apple slices and slather the extra pieces of bread with raspberry jam on the non-buttered side. Top the sandwiches so the jam and apples are together.
5) Place sandwiches in panini press or place them on a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Place the hot cast iron skillet on top of the foil and place back in the oven.
6) If you're using the panini press, cook sandwich according to press instructions. If you're pressing in the oven using my crazy cast iron skillet method, you'll need to cook them for about 15 minutes.
Remove sandwiches and slice each sandwich into three even sections. Serve immediately!
Recipe adapted from a Panini happy recipe.
This is the perfect lunch recipe if you have a few pieces of leftover chicken in the fridge. You can use any chicken for the sandwiches. Just roughly chop the chicken so it works in the sandwich.
If you want to make the sandwich and don’t have any leftover chicken, just lightly poach a few chicken breasts in simmering water until they are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Then let them cool and chop them up.
Besides the chicken, these are the filling ingredients I used. All of these add something awesome to the sandwich.
Just grate the cheese to make it melt easier. Slice the apple into thin slices and spritz the apple slices with lemon juice which will keep them from browning and also add some acid to the sandwich.
The bread selection is pretty important for this sandwich. You need something sturdy and I used nice big slices which allows for lots of fillings. If you are using a more standard sandwich bread, you will probably have to reduce the filling amounts because it just won’t all fit on the bread!
Lightly butter each of your four slices of bread. You don’t need a lot of butter, but it does help with the browning (and flavor).
Building the Sandwich
When you’re ready to building, pile your chopped chicken onto the bread slices. Then pile on the cheese.
Next is the apple slices and smear the extra pieces of bread with the raspberry jam (very important).
As you can see, this is a pretty thick sandwich which is why pressing it makes sense. It compresses the layers into a nice layer and all the flavors combine and get delicious.
If you have a panini press, toss this bad boy in there and you are good to go.
In my case, this is what I did.
I preheated my oven to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a large cast iron skillet in the oven. Then when the skillet was nice and hot, I placed my sandwiches on a baking sheet and topped them with foil (just to keep them clean).
Then I topped them with the hot and heavy skillet.
I stuck this whole thing in the oven for about 15 minutes and it accomplished basically the same thing as a panini press. It provided pressure and heat at the same time! It’s very important that the skillet is nice and hot though. Putting a cold skillet on there will do nothing.
Then just chop up your sandwich into a few pieces so it’s easier to eat.
I was pretty proud of my press contraption to be honest, but it was worth putting in some extra work.
The sandwich is awesome. The contrast between the rich cheese, crunchy apples, and sweet jam is pretty ideal in my mind.
Use a press. Use my contraption method. Do what you need to do to make the sandwich happen!