Although “panini” might just be toasted Italian bread with a filling, it sounds ever so much more elegant than “sandwich.” Panini – pronounced pa (stressed syllable) – ni-ni – a good step above the sandwiches found in many North American kitchens.
The bread could be baguettes, michetta or ciabatta, which is certainly more sophisticated that store-bought white.
Similarly, the fillings should be deli type foods such as ham, cheese, olives, or salami. No peanut butter and jam here please. And certainly no Bologna sausage meat either.
The basic idea of the panini is that it is toasted and compressed, with the heat being evenly distributed. Yes, it can be done in a frying pan with the help of a heavy book, but if you really want to make good appetizing paninis, it is going to require investing in a decent machine to do it.
Think of a panini grill on a cost-per-use basis. Divide the price by the number of paninis you will make for yourself, family, and friends and the return on investment (ROI) is low. Remember, good paninis are expensive to buy, but cheap and easy to make.
Where do you find a good panini maker?
The short answer is in any store that sells kitchen appliances will likely have a stock of panini grills. A better approach, however, is to do your homework and find out what would work best for you. Fortunately, that research has been done and is available online at paniniperfect.com.
What kind of panini grill is best for your needs?
Major factors to consider when buying the perfect panini maker are:
- Available space
Although there may be other factors – such as color or style – these three will cover the major considerations for making the purchase.
How much space does it require?
If you live in an apartment that is the size of a broom closet – or on a boat — all space must be put to valuable use. Even though this model has the dreaded “s’ word – sandwich –the Hamilton Beach 25460A Gourmet Sandwich Maker can still evenly heat and press a panini. So, if you don’t have the space for an additional dishwasher or an extra microwave, take a look as this model can be stored upright once it is cooled. This makes it easy to slip into a small space between other appliances
If space is not a consideration, the Waring Commercial WPG150 Compact Sandwich Grill is a professional model that will keep your teenagers and all their friends well fed. No matter if it is family, social gatherings or if you want to start a small restaurant, this professional grill can help make it a reality.
As well as being heavy-duty, the Waring Grillit also has a lot of other functions that are worth investigating.
What else can the panini grill do?
If all you are going to do is to make paninis, any model will do. But if you want to get serious about using the grill for a number of functions it is worthwhile to check the manual and to check online reviews.
Grilling is a great way to prepare food, but doing it on a BBQ in the winter when there is snow outside isn’t much fun. The Cuisinart GR-11 Griddler 3-in-1 brings the ease of outdoor cooking into the kitchen. Open the unit and then unfold the top lid until it is flat. Once in this position, the grill serves as a BBQ and will handle chicken breasts, meat squares for kabobs or small steaks strips.
Another feature to consider is longer-lifespan ceramic grill plates, which are much easier to clean and don’t scratch. These plates also heat up faster than the traditional metal ones. Check the Oster Dura Ceramic Panini Press and Grill.
Or how about a floating hinge so that you can cook kid-size panini for the small ones and massive meal-busters for the heartiest of eaters at the same time?
How much money to you have to spend?
As suggested earlier, do a cost-per-use calculation. If you are a single person who frequently eats out, save your money for the down-payment for a new car and get a cheaper model to make your once a month panini.
If, however, you have a growing family with a lot of friends, diverting the money intended for a trip to Europe to a top-of-the-line panini maker might be a good ROI.
Rated the best for the money, the George Foreman GRP 1060B can make your paninis affordable and you won’t have to blow out your credit card and pay ridiculous interest on the purchase. In addition, this press can be used to cook hamburgers and other meats indoors without making modifications to the basic structure.
While the non-stick grill makes clean-up easier, the Foreman model also slants downwards and has a tray to catch grease or melted cheese.
Take the time to research and plan your panini-maker purchase. After all, it may well be a lifetime investment.