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Should I buy a Pannini Press?

Angelina Jan 18, 2007 10:34 PM

I don't know why I am so obsessed with pannini's lately! For years, I was perfectly happy grilling up a grilled cheese on the pan, but now I feel like I need a press!!

Am I crazy? Is it a complete waste of money?...just like when the coffee craze came about and I bought this ridiculous expresso cappucino maker, now it's in the basement.

Just curious on anyones thoughts! Thanks!

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  1. JoanN Jan 18, 2007 10:38 PM

    Waste of money, waste of space. Do you have two cast-iron skillets? That's what I use. If not, do you have access to bricks? I don't; I live in New York City. An awful lot of pannini presses are sold. I guess a lot of people are happy with them. But do you need it? Nope, you don't.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JoanN
      Angelina Jan 18, 2007 10:42 PM

      Thanks, Joan! I live close by you, (Monmouth Co. NJ) and you put my mind at ease. I guess it's because every week I see them on sale in Macy's, thinking I will use it, when I am so sure I won't! You are so right about the space factor!

      Thanks, I feel better already :)

      1. re: JoanN
        k
        Kelli2006 Jan 19, 2007 01:29 AM

        Joan, I agree with you. I find the pannini press to be something that will just gather dust. I have always used a grill pan on the bottom and a cast iron skillet to apply weight to the top.
        A foil-wrapped brick can be applied to the cast iron skillet it you need more weight.

        1. re: JoanN
          billjriv Jan 20, 2007 03:33 AM

          Pretty smart thinking,if you got both pans hot enough be o.k.,im going to have to try that.

        2. f
          FAL Jan 18, 2007 10:40 PM

          Yes you should. I love my Panni press. But I do not use as often as I like to. Also get the expresso machine out of the basement and enjoy . Panni and Expresso you can't go wrong.
          BTW . The George Foreman grill make a nice panni.So if you have one use it Before spending a few bucks.

          1. Gin and It Jan 18, 2007 10:41 PM

            The reason to get a panini press is, with the nonstick coating and high heat acheived, you can grill a crispy sandwich with no grease!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Gin and It
              RShea78 Jan 19, 2007 03:57 AM

              Gin and It- OMG!

              And leave off the most important part of the outside? I gotta have my real butter fix! Dry grilled cheese to me is unpleasant.

              Of course you are in charge of your own arteries so I do not mean to give you a hard time about it. Take care!

              ...Ron

              1. re: Gin and It
                The Dairy Queen Jan 19, 2007 12:16 PM

                And, you get the nice striped pattern!

                But, it is a pain to store...and it's heavy!

                ~TDQ

              2. f
                FlavoursGal Jan 18, 2007 10:58 PM

                I'm very pleased with my Cuisinart Griddler. It has both panini grills and flat griddles; they're interchangeable. One nice thing about this model is that it opens flat, so you can use it as a flat-top grill or griddle. Which, when you consider the small stoves that many kitchens are equipped with, might not be a bad idea for a small kitchen.

                Somehow, a sandwich oozing with gruyere cheese, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, made totally crisp by the panini maker, is a thing of beauty.

                Now, why do I have a chicken in the oven when I'm no longer in the mood for it?

                1. j
                  jwagnerdsm Jan 18, 2007 11:02 PM

                  I vote yes. You can make do with almost any kitchen appliance, but that doesn't mean it's a waste to have one.

                  1. Greyhoundgrrl Jan 18, 2007 11:10 PM

                    I make paninis on my waffle iron. Please don't tell anyone.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Greyhoundgrrl
                      paulj Jan 18, 2007 11:36 PM

                      Some waffle irons have reversible grids - waffle on one side, flat on the other. The flat works for panini - or what we used to call grilled cheese sandwiches.
                      paulj

                      1. re: Greyhoundgrrl
                        troutpoint Jan 22, 2007 03:05 PM

                        Me too! I was just debating on whether (or not) I should let people in on my dirty little secret when I read your post. lol.

                      2. Candy Jan 18, 2007 11:13 PM

                        The gridded side of my reversable grill/griddle and a brick works for me and I don't have to worry about where I am going to store a one use appliance. About as useful a a quesadilla maker. And quesadillas work out beautifully in a cast iron skillet or griddle

                        1. f
                          FlavoursGal Jan 18, 2007 11:34 PM

                          Having teenagers in the house, I must add, having an electric panini maker makes life a lot easier for mom. They're more likely to go ahead and make their own grilled sandwiches than if they had to deal with bricks and weights.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: FlavoursGal
                            macca Jan 19, 2007 12:24 PM

                            Agreed. We have one- and I admit I hardly ever use it. But the kids love it. One of their faveorites is grilled pepperoni and cheese. Easy to use, and easy to clean. If you have the space, I say, go for it!

                          2. c
                            Canada Eats Jan 18, 2007 11:59 PM

                            I inherited a George Foreman panini a few years ago. Unfortunately, kitchen space is tight, so the press is tucked away, which means I don't end up using it very often. But every once in a while, it manages to makes its way onto the counter for a few days, and then I do use it quite a lot, especially when I'm rushing around a lot- it's quick, but still makes me feel like I'm "doing something."

                            But unlike, say, a food processor, you don't "need" a panini- unless it's stored somewhere visible and accessible, you likely won't use it much.

                            - Lea
                            http://canada-eats.com

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Canada Eats
                              RShea78 Jan 19, 2007 04:25 AM

                              Canada Eats, wrote : "...unless it's stored somewhere visible and accessible, you likely won't use it much."

                              I have a tip that _may_ help in that category. I generally have 1/2 size bake sheets or some smaller cheapies that I use strictly for "appliance slide-aways". I hope the point is in the "", but in case; I tray my few favorite cooking appliances so I can either slide it back into the one deep corner that I have or slide it into my bottom cabinet. My 16x12 electric skillet and my oblong Nasco 6.5 qt roaster is on 1/2 size bake sheets at the moment. I had a Hamilton Beach "fat reducing" grill on a stamped cheapie, but the grill died last year and never got around to replacing it.

                              -----

                            2. n
                              NickM Jan 19, 2007 01:30 AM

                              We have one: a Krups. We used it for a while, with decent, but not exactly stunning results. Makes a tremendous paperweight.

                              1. m
                                MikeLM Jan 19, 2007 02:15 AM

                                I got all excited about the Cuisinart Griddler a couple of months ago. (OK, I'm a tool nut - cooking and woodworking) We got a really good deal with coupons at Kohl's - the list is around $150 - we went to Kohl's with coupons, geezer discounts, and everyday sales and wound up paying about $86.

                                It's nice, but I have to admit I can do most of the same stuff with a griddle pan and a sandwich weight - or a foil-wrapped brick. Takes a little longer. The Cuisinart makes good sandwiches - whether you call 'em pannini or grilled cheese.

                                I have seen them used - they fold out flat to provide two griddle pans - as very nice hors d'eouvre warming servers for a large party. The Cuisinart has two sets of grill plates - two flat and two ridged. These come out for dishwashering. It's a pretty-well designed unit, and I feel guilty for not doing more with it.

                                If you can get a good deal, and have space to store it, it's not a bad accessory. But, you can probably live without it.

                                Mike

                                1. paulj Jan 19, 2007 02:18 AM

                                  My Breville press takes up little space, since it stands on end.

                                  paulj

                                  1. c
                                    cyberroo Jan 19, 2007 02:34 AM

                                    We pretty well lived on panini for the first few months that we owned ours (also the Cuisinart Griddler). It gets less use now, but it still has a spot on my teeny tiny countertop. We sometimes pull it open for eggs and bacon or pancakes on the weekend, and also for philly cheese steaks. On occasion, i've even used it as a George Foreman.

                                    I think it depends on how much you like panini. I think the flat ridges are different than the pointed ridges of my grill pan for making panini, and I don't have a lot of desire to keep foil-wrapped bricks around.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: cyberroo
                                      m
                                      MikeLM Jan 19, 2007 02:44 AM

                                      Hey, 'roo-

                                      you need only one brick, unless you're having a big party.

                                      Mike ;)

                                      1. re: MikeLM
                                        c
                                        cyberroo Jan 19, 2007 05:43 PM

                                        actually, I've had a few panini parties. That's why my best friend has a panini press of his own!

                                    2. shindiganna Jan 19, 2007 03:39 AM

                                      we use a cast iron "bacon press" and a cast iron skillet. My father used to make sandwiches in an iron of sorts. It was shaped like a hairpin. you basically put a sandwich inside, close it up and set in on the burner. mmm...toasty

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: shindiganna
                                        a
                                        annimal Jan 19, 2007 07:30 PM

                                        Oooh I like those irons! I wouldn't even know where to find one now.

                                        1. re: annimal
                                          shindiganna Jan 22, 2007 12:23 AM

                                          I'd love to find one! Haven't a clue where to begin

                                      2. SilverlakeGirl Jan 19, 2007 12:13 PM

                                        The answer is "yes".

                                        After my remodel I got rid of the George Forman Grill as I didn't like the way it cooked foods ... not really grilling. And I bought a Villaware Panini Press. I love it and I use it often. And the press is reserved for panini or sandwiches only.

                                        I like it because I can use my Italian Ciabiatta bread sliced open and fill it with a slice of cheese and whatever little bit of meat I have in the frig. I often make a quick dinner for myself whenever I'm rushed. And I get to cook the panini exactly like I wish ... REALLY extra crunchy!

                                        I, to, worried I may not use it but I use mine and love it.

                                        1. o
                                          obxspiritdreamer Jan 19, 2007 12:35 PM

                                          I am all about making the best pannini possible. But I also am a advocate of multi -tasking tools. A pannini press is not one of them. My day job is a chef/kitchen manager for a resort club here on the Outer Banks. This past season I spent $350.00 on a commercial press. Within 4 days I had it paid for. So I know that they are the rage now. But I would never spend even $50.00 on one for home. The skittle and brick method works just fine. To me its all about the goodies that you build your sandwich with. Try making one with a good multi grain bread, smoked turkey, goat cheese, a couple roasted red peppers, a sprinkle of fresh basil and tarragon. ENJOY...OBX

                                          1. flourgirl Jan 19, 2007 08:14 PM

                                            I too am usually against the "single function" bulky appliance. (Like the deep fryer I used twice and then realized my dutch oven would work just as well for the very few times I'd be deep frying anything.)

                                            But I have a Villaware Panini Press and use it very frequently. (And I store mine in the basement - it really doesn't take that long to walk down the stairs and pick it up off the shelf...)I have grill pans AND cast iron presses to weigh down sandwiches, but I find that making sandwiches in the panini press is just faster & easier. I am VERY glad I bought one.

                                            1. w
                                              Walters Jan 19, 2007 08:19 PM

                                              Mario Batali has a new line of cookware that includes a cast iron gril pan with heavy panini cast iron weight. It's priced remarkably well and offers the dual service of a panini press and true grill pan. Batali also has a coated, cast iron pizza pan for baking crispy pizzas. (Much more durable than pizza stones that can easily crack.) His prices are about half of Le Creuset so I say, make Mario even richer.

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