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Apr 12, 2008 08:11 PM

A good panini cheese?

Hello all. The name of this topic says it all. I'm looking for good, melty cheeses that work well on paninis. Currently, I have provolone, gouda, and fontina. Out of these, which one may be the best. Also, any good panini recipes are welcome :)

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  1. I've always thought fontina melted well.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Cpt Wafer

      Yeah, I was thinking about using that. I've never had it before. Taste wise, what would pair well with it? Also, a little side note question. Usually, my panini order goes bread, meat, tomato, lettuce, any other condiment (mushrooms, onions, etc) and then cheese, followed by the remaining piece of bread. I've been told by some NEVER to put tomato on a panini, and others tell me a good panini depends on the order. Is there a better order to place the ingredients on?

      1. re: pastry634

        I used to word in a sandwich shop and they said to be certain, no matter what, come hell or high water, that the condiment touch the meat. Do I have the foggiest idea why? Nope, but they's the sandwich folks so it is now what I do. Generally bread, condiment, meat, veggies, cheese, and an additional smear of condiment on top bread to help it stick.

        1. re: pastry634

          I find melted fontina to be rather mild. Certainly not sharp. I'd try it with ham or perhaps some nice smoked turkey.

        2. re: Cpt Wafer

          I think fontina is a good choice. Below is a link to one of my favorite places for a panino - if you click on "menus" and then "panini", you'll see lots of wonderful combinations.

        3. It may not be a "gourmet" cheese, but I've found that Boar's Head cheeses tend to do really well in panino. Their white American makes a simple but yummy classic grilled cheese sandwich.

          Oh, and pastry, I put tomato on mine, but generally sandwich it in the middle between the other ingredients to keep it as far away from the heat as possible.

          1. Next time you go cheese shopping buy a semi soft Asiago cheese for paninis. We just enjoyed Asiago with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and olive paste on thin sliced sourdough and it was delicious.

            The *often* overlooked Muenster cheese also melts well in paninis.

            2 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              Yeah, I've had muenster before. It is surprisingly delicious. I'm thinking about trying a turkey, tomato, lettuce, and fontina panini (maybe leave out the lettuce). I also have an avocado. many choices! By the way, if I'm looking for a way to melt the fontina the best, does its position in the order of the sandwich matter? I usually put it on the very top to get it as close to the top of my panini press as I can.

              1. re: pastry634

                Yes, I use the cheese as the top & bottom layer in the sandwich; helps the melt and also keeps all the other goodies in line!

            2. Fontina is a great melter. Swiss cheeses melt great too. Gruyere, Ementhaler, etc. How about a Brie? Or a Brie variety like Cambazola (blue cheese like, but lighter), or the mushroom flavored one...the name starts with M...

              2 Replies
              1. re: scuzzo

                I agree with Gruyere, and Ementhaler, both melt well and nice nutty taste, Harvart is also good

                1. re: scuzzo

                  I think you're thinking of Champignon, which would be delish! As far as "M" ones, the maker of Champignon (a German company named Champignon-Kasseri) also makes Montagnolo, which is a blue-brie similar to Cambozola, and Mirabo, which is a walnut-flavored brie-style.

                  While fontina (Italian, not Danish) is a traditional way to go, I think looking for any cheese with a high moisture content is a good base from which to experiment. Boorenkaas (a better Gouda), Passendale, Asiago Fresca, Morel and Leek Jack, Horseradish Havarti, the possibilities are almost endless. Unless you have expensive cheese hanging around going bad (which sometimes, I admit, we do), don't spend a lot, since you're going to be melting it.

                2. We alternate between fresh mozzarella, an aged provolone, goat cheese or shavings of ricotta salata....Love panini. Especially with prosciutto di Parma crudo and arugula; yes and tomato slices, too.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    Awesome. I'm thinking about letting the cheese get to room temp. before I used it (to help the melting process). Some nice fontina and turkey with tomatoes and lettuce sounds delightful :). Any suggestions on spreads? Should I use any at all?

                    Sorry for all the questions...I'm just really interested in food and how to best prepare it :)

                    1. re: pastry634

                      Good idea about letting the cheese come to room temp. It will have more flavor.

                      For spreads, I sometimes use a pseudo aioli: Hellman's or TJ's mayo, pressed garlic, lemon juice & a bit of jest, pinch of white pepper. Another is a drizzle or EVOO & balsamic. Sometimes I add a tapanade/homemade olive spread....

                      Never apologize for questions. : )

                      1. re: Gio

                        Yeah, I was thinking about a mayo-like spread. But I would like to add some spices in the mix.

                        How long will the cheese take to come to room temp.? I'm at school right now, don't get home until 3, and eat around 5 30ish. Is 2 and a half hours enough time? Is it too long?

                        1. re: pastry634

                          usually cheesemongers suggest you take the cheese out an hour before serving, so your 2.5 hours is MORE than enough time.

                          1. re: pastry634

                            You can add anything you want to the mayo condiment, but remember, you want the full flavor of the meat and cheese to be noticed, so go easy on amounts and kinds of spices you use. I'm very careful about the amount of garlic I use, for depends on the amount of condiment I'm making.

                            Actually, Pastry, 1/2 to 1 hour is plenty of time for the cheese to come to room temperature.

                        2. re: pastry634

                          If you use mozzerella, actually any soft cheese, and let it come to room temperature (which works great, btw), make sure to slice it thinly first. I just had a party and we had prosciutto, mozzerella, tomatoe and basil--simple but great together. No spread.

                          1. re: chowser

                            Ok, so I should slice the amount I want, and only let that amount sit out? As opposed to letting the block sit out and cut from the block? I suppose having only my slices out would bring the cheese to room temp faster

                            1. re: pastry634

                              I think it would be much harder to cut if the entire cheese had been sitting out for awhile - as it softens, when you go to cut it, the cheese will just squish down and you won't have slices. You'll have blobs. :-)

                              1. re: pastry634

                                Yes, as LindaWhit says, it would be hard to cut room temperature mozzerella. Just cut slices while it's really cold--I ended up with more than I needed but that's better than not enough.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Ah...I see. Thanks for all your help, everyone :). I should have named this topic: Everything About Panini's. :P I think I'm going to end up using fontina cheese with turkey, tomato, and maybe a leaf of lettuce to separate the tomato slices from the top of the bread (to prevent moisture). Oh, and I'll be using good, thicker cuts of French bread.

                                  1. re: pastry634

                                    Pastry, I'm pretty sure I have a link on my home computer as to the "how to's" of how to layer paninis....I'll post it tonight.

                                    And now I'm hungry for a panino sandwich. :-)

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      I hear you. You know, every time I visit, that always seems to happen...oh well, the community is great here :). And that link would be great. I don't know why, but I love hearing about how different people eat and how they make it. Personally, I feel food says so much about a person, and this community really emphasizes each one's individuality. I'll let you know how my panini turns out tonight, if you want to know :P. I'm thinking about substituting the regular roma tomatoes for roasted red peppers.

                                      1. re: pastry634

                                        Here it is - a PDF:

                                        Gives 47 different suggestions for fillings for paninis. And the suggestion on to build it is to make the cheese the outermost layer inside the bread slices to hold the sandwich together.