This little sandwich doesn’t look very impressive in the photo, but boy was it good! I love grilled sandwiches, and I love them even more when they’re done on a panini press. My Dad was the one who got me started on paninis; they were one of his signature dishes. The great thing about paninis is that you can stuff a lot of different stuff into a sandwich, add cheese, put it on the panini press, and the sandwich stays together. I think the best panini creations are those that are a result of using what you have in the fridge/pantry. The options for bread are limitless, as are the options for meat, veggies, and cheese, and you can easily throw together a simple flavored mayo or mustard (or leave it off altogether). Prior to Thanksgiving, Bryan smoked a whole chicken (as a test run for the turkey he would smoke for Thanksgiving). The smoked chicken was great, and we had plenty of leftovers – hence, I was inspired to make paninis. I didn’t have much else around, but I did have a red pepper, some shallots (no onion – which worked out fine; I liked the shallot), some cheese and an avocado. My avocado had some icky spots, so I didn’t have enough to put slices on everyone’s sandwich, so I decided to just mash it and combine it with mayonnaise to make a spread. If you don’t have a panini press, you can make these sandwiches in a pan or griddle on the stove just like grilled cheese, or you could do them on an outdoor grill. Now I’ll have to post some soups or salads – the perfect accompaniment for a weeknight dinner. I haven’t posted very specific quantities because that’s easy enough to figure out depending on how many paninis you are making.
- Smoked or Roasted Chicken (at room temperature)- fairly thinly sliced, (can substitute any deli meat)
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 2-3 Medium Shallots (can substitute several rings of sliced red onion)
- Italian Bread (can substitute any sliced bread)
- Pepper Jack Cheese – sliced
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove stem, seeds and membranes from the peppers. Peel and thinly slice the shallots, place in a bowl and toss with a enough olive oil to coat. Place the peppers skin side up on a baking sheet (foil lined for easy clean-up). Sprinkle the peppers and shallots with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes, checking occasionally. Flip peppers and onions to roast on other side until they reach the desired tenderness; remove from oven and allow to cool. When peppers are cool enough to handle peel off the skin. Peel and remove the pit from the avocado and mash the flesh. Add desired amount of mayonnaise. Assemble the sandwiches by spreading a layer of avocado mayonnaise on one or both sides of the bread. To the bottom piece of bread, add a layer of chicken, then peppers, then shallots. Top with cheese and the top piece of bread. Heat the panini press, pan, griddle or grill to medium high. Brush both sides of the sandwich with olive oil and cook until the outside is well browned and the cheese is melted.