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Making paninis without a grill pan?

alwayshungrygal Feb 13, 2014 10:41 AM

I really don't want to invest in a single function pan or machine but would love to make paninis at home. What would you use to get that grilled effect? Wrap a brick in foil to weigh it down, put another pan on top? What has been your most effective method, if you don't use a panini grill or pan?


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    josephnl RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 13, 2014 10:51 AM

    I realize that this is not responsive to your post, but I was in the same position as you. I love paninis, and finally broke down and bought a Krups panini press on sale for $50...and I love it, and use it way more than I thought I would, probably 2x/week. Sure you can make paninis in a fry pan with a brick, but it's way easier with an electric press. Search the internet, and I'm sure you can find some great buys.

    1 Reply
    1. re: josephnl
      josephnl RE: josephnl Feb 13, 2014 10:55 AM

      Just looked online, and saw that Williams-Sonoma has the terrific Krups machine for $60, and Target has others starting at $25!

    2. hill food RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 13, 2014 10:51 AM

      do you have an old waffle iron? lots of those have reversible plates (dimpled one side - flat the other). or a regular clothes iron! just sheath it in foil.

      a brick could work, but awkward. <edit> and I'd do the layers not as I read it pan/food/brick/pan but rather pan/food/pan/brick </edit>

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        alwayshungrygal RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 14, 2014 02:57 PM

        Thanks for the responses. I really don't want to buy a single function item, no matter how the price. It'll be another space hogger.

        I don't have a waffle iron, so no luck in that respect. I forgot I have a small George Foreman grill so I may try that.

        hill food, your layering idea is very helpful. I could also (very carefully) wrap an old book or two in foil, I've got at least one that would weigh as much as a brick!

        Thanks again!

        3 Replies
        1. re: alwayshungrygal
          josephnl RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 14, 2014 04:33 PM

          I see no reason why a George Forman grill wouldn't work well. Report back, if you try it.

          1. re: josephnl
            scubadoo97 RE: josephnl Mar 17, 2014 04:26 AM

            We have a GF that got little use from day one. Not sure why we still have it but I've made grilled sandwiches on it more than anything else

            I usually just use a cast iron pan and a weight to press the sandwich

          2. re: alwayshungrygal
            CindyJ RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 15, 2014 11:20 AM

            Absolutely try your Foreman grill! I recently bought a Cuisinart Griddler to use while my kitchen is being rehabbed. It's very similar to the Foreman grill and it makes GREAT paninis.

          3. k
            kseiverd RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 14, 2014 03:15 PM

            I'm Scotish so just don't buy into needing a special piece of cookware to make a GRILLED CHEESE sandwich?? Cast iron pan with bacon press on top work just ine for me. You don't need those big $$ grill marks... imnsho!!

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              sedimental RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 14, 2014 05:00 PM

              I use my George Foreman grill. Works PERFECTLY.
              The trick is to not use oil on the outside of the bread.
              I "smush it" down a few times during the grilling, they get grill marks and are very toasty :)

              5 Replies
              1. re: sedimental
                josephnl RE: sedimental Feb 14, 2014 11:16 PM

                Aside from not wanting the extra calories or fat from using oil or butter, is there any reason not to use some butter or oil when using the GF grill? I have a Krups panini press which I love, and always lightly butter the outside of each slice of bread when making a panini.

                1. re: josephnl
                  sedimental RE: josephnl Feb 15, 2014 04:03 AM

                  I think it makes it more like a grilled cheese sandwich, rather than panini -a bit soggy as it cools. I butter or oil (or pesto) the inside of the bread if using drier ingredients but leave the outside plain.

                  1. re: sedimental
                    josephnl RE: sedimental Feb 15, 2014 08:19 AM

                    I guess it's a matter of taste. I always lightly butter the outside of the bread, and my paninis remain quite crisp.

                  2. re: josephnl
                    k80k RE: josephnl Mar 16, 2014 09:31 PM

                    I always butter the bread and it turns out great, although I make sandwiches with thick slices of sourdough so the thickness of the bread might have an effect on sogginess with butter...

                    1. re: k80k
                      josephnl RE: k80k Mar 16, 2014 09:55 PM

                      I use thinly sliced bread and lightly butter it. Using my Krups panini press my panini are always crisp! Using butter is simply a matter of taste. I also love Dutch tostis, which are grilled sandwiches done in a special toaster with no butter or fat whatsoever. They are delicious & obviously can be quite healthy, but I've never seen tostis nor the special toaster in the U.S.

                2. k
                  Kelli2006 RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 14, 2014 06:39 PM

                  A foil-wrapped brick and a pre-heated cast iron frying pan is the easiest way to fake a panini press.

                  2 preheated cast iron frying pans used back to back also work. One is upside-down on the bottom and another right side up on the top.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kelli2006
                    alwayshungrygal RE: Kelli2006 Feb 17, 2014 12:21 PM

                    Alas, I don't have a cast iron pan. I haven't really needed one yet. Thanks for the response.

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                    autumm RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 14, 2014 10:04 PM

                    My le crueset grill pan, which was disappointing in it's designed purpose, makes a great panini. Heat pan to medium while assembling sandwiches, then place in the pan weighted down with in our case a plate and something heavy, then flip after a minute or 2.

                    The only reason I say thing was I was so underwhelmed by the pan for cooking meat that I HAD to find a way to make it useful (which now it is)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: autumm
                      hill food RE: autumm Feb 14, 2014 10:34 PM

                      I love innovation. I really do.

                      1. re: autumm
                        JTPhilly RE: autumm Feb 17, 2014 01:00 PM

                        that is a great idea - I have been so saddened by my LC grill pans' lack of usefulness - I have a enlogated handled one (a brand-new 2nd hand *find*) and a smaller square one that was my meat pan when I lived in a veggie house - since I got real cast iron pans I have no use for these suckers and when I do try to use them just end up angered by them (they are about good for putting little grill marks on otherwise cooked foods) co but I have not been able to get rid of them either - Now they are repurposed - awesome.

                      2. tim irvine RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 15, 2014 08:40 AM

                        I use the ridged side of a CI griddle and a bacon/steak press (and plates with canned beans when making several at once) as weights. I spray the bread lightly with oil and turn several times. A CI griddle takes little room and is a definite multiuse item...steaks and chops, pancakes, panini, English muffins, hash browns, toasting spices, etc.

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                          alwayshungrygal RE: alwayshungrygal Feb 17, 2014 12:26 PM

                          Thanks again for all the responses. I'm going to try the George Foreman grill method since I already have that (gifted to me by my son). I've got a small one and don't use it often enough to keep it on the counter tho that's the only place I have for it. Hopefully making paninis will increase the usage.

                          If I don't like those results, I'll try the pan/panini/pan/brick or foil-covered heavy book method.

                          Thanks again!

                          1. mbfant RE: alwayshungrygal Mar 17, 2014 07:41 AM

                            I'll tell you what I do if you promise not to say paninis any more. ;-)

                            To make a grilled cheese sandwich (sometimes with additional stuff), which I think is the same thing, but in Italy we call it "un toast" -- go figure (a panino in Italy is a generic sandwich) -- I make the sandwich and put in in either an ordinary skillet or on the ridged grill pan and weigh it down with the meat tenderizer. If I am making two at the same time, I either keep the meat tenderizer moving or else put a plate on top of the sandwiches and weigh that down that the meat tenderizer. When one side is golden brown, I turn the sandwich and cook the other side the same way. Ideally this is done slowly so that the bread doesn't burn before the cheese melts.

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