How to make panini without a panini pan
Well my son came home from school talking about panini so I thought I'd make them for dinner tonight. I don't have a panini pan but I do have a cast iron skillet and a pan with ridges. I thought I could do something with those two but I'd love any tips.
I'd preheat both pans at 400°F while you are prepping the sandwich. Use the grill pan below the sandwich, and place the regular CI skillet on top of the sandwich. Alton Brown used a similar trick at the end of his cheese fondue episode and it works quite well. You should apply butter to the bottom of the top skillet to prevent it from sticking and aid browning.
You can just weigh the sandwich down with, say, another pot, let it brown, then turn over and repeat on other side. Or if it's not a fat sandwich, try using a waffle iron.
Preheat the grill pan over medium-high heat. Spread the outside of your sandwich with softened butter or (seasoned) olive oil. Weigh the sandwich down with the cast iron pan. You can cover the bottom of the cast iron with foil for easier clean-up, if you like. Cook 3-4 minutes, flip, and cook another 3-4 minutes.
For very squishy fillings, I have just used the grill pan and pressed down occasionally with a spatula, the way I do for grilled cheese. Preheating and timing are the same.