The first time I owned a Panini Grill, I had received it as a gift from my sister-in-law. I’ll be honest with you, the first thing that came to mind after opening the package was, “I’m grateful, but I wish she had gotten me one of the best versatile toaster oven or another (more) useful appliance for my kitchen.”
Well, boy was I wrong to think that, because the unit she got for me would turn out to be one of the most amazing household appliances I could own in my kitchen – and all I needed to do was just learn how to use it.
Imagine making a ‘grown-up’ version of grilled cheese or a signature sandwich that you’ve made in your own kitchen. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? After learning how to make use of the unit my sister-in-law got me, I decided to create today’s guide, which will not only teach you how to prepare the delicacy but will also show you how you can maintain your Panini grill, so it keeps serving your needs for the longest time.
Features of a Panini Grill
Before you know how to use the equipment, you have to be familiar with its features. Depending on which one you got, the working surface is made of aluminium, glass-ceramic, cast iron, or stainless steel. Each of these materials has its cons and pros. For instance, glass ceramics are relatively easy to clean and provide a stylish look, aluminium ones heat up and cool down very quickly, cast iron takes time to heat up but retains heat longer, and stainless steel is more durable and heats up relatively quickly and efficiently gives off heat.
What’s more? The surface can be smooth, corrugated, or both. A smooth surface is versatile since it can be used to cook various items like omelettes, pancakes, and so forth. However, a Panini Grill with both surfaces combines the advantages.
Some Panini Grills even have thermostats that let you control the temperature depending on the range provided. This allows the units to automatically shut down in case of overheating. Note though, the lower and upper heating elements have independent temperature controls and differ on adjustment ranges.
How to Make the Perfect Panini
1. Choose the Right Bread
Ensuring you choose the right bread type is the most important step. If your fillings will be soft and moist, then choose a drier and denser bread that can absorb the moisture of the fillings. In addition to that, your bread should be cut horizontally, and you can use ingredients of your choice as the fillings.
2. Do Away with the Wetness
If your sandwich is wet and soggy, it becomes inedible regardless of how great it looks. To avoid sogginess, use spreads like butter, cream, or mayonnaise on the edges of each slice of bread. The spreads help create a seal against the wet ingredients. If you want to add wet ingredients like tomatoes, add them just before the sandwich is ready to be eaten.
3. Use a Straight-Edged Knife
It’s quite a task to cut the perfect slices for a sandwich because you have to consider the fillings. You should use a straight-edged knife to cut your bread pieces instead of the serrated knife. This will ensure that separation for the prepared sandwich is smooth and neat.
4. Get the Crunchiness
From experience, I know you would agree with me when I say that a grilled sandwich tastes the best when it’s crunchy, right? So, all you have to do to achieve the crunchiness is put (or rather spread) butter on the Panini grill before placing the pieces of bread on it. This will result in the crunchy grilled delight on your sandwich.
Secret Tip for You
Seasoning and Cleaning your Panini Grill
You should not only know how to clean your Panini Grill, but also how to season it. Sure, knowing how to clean it is key, but seasoning it is equally important. To get the best follow these 3 simple steps.
1. Clean the Panini maker before using it for the first time: while in the market, the Panini is oiled to ensure it stays in a good condition, so clean it before using it by first heating it so that the oil liquefies. Consequently, use a damp cloth soaked in dishwashing soap to wipe off any oil left.
2. Season the grill: seasoning keeps the grill from rusting and food from sticking. You season your grill after cleaning and drying it – when you’re done using it for the first time. To do this, spread a light layer of cooking oil on the plates and turn up the heat to the highest setting. After around 10 minutes, switch off the unit, and let it cool down.
3. Clean your Panini Grill after each use: every time you use it ensure you clean it to remove the build-up particles leftover from cooking. While the plates are still warm, use the grill’s cleaning brush with soap and warm water to remove the particles. You should never use cold water to clean the unit.
A Panini Grills can also be used to cook other kinds of foods. These include mini cakes, fruit, ice cream cones, mocha, pond cake, polenta, vegetables, and meat.
With this knowledge of preparing a Panini embedded in your mind, nothing will ever beat the joy of taking a bite of your favourite, crunchy, and self-made sandwich after a long and tiring day. So, don’t think about tossing that Panini Grill in a dark corner thinking that it’s of no use in your kitchen. As you have seen, it’s pretty versatile.
That said, if for some reason, you have not already own one of these masterpieces, this guide I recently created on the best Panini presses should change that. And if you’d like to learn more about picking the best kitchen appliances, check out this guide.