Wednesday, November 26, 2008

perfect panini

on the eve of thanksgiving the last thing I want to think about is cooking a large complicated meal. simplicity is the key for nights like tonight...when i have prep work for tomorrows long day of cooking weighing heavily on my mind.

this recipe has been gently simmering in my imagination for a while, but it wasn't until i was at my mom's a few weeks ago when the final ingredient made its appearance in her refrigerator door: dalmatia fig spread.

now, i'm admittedly a huge fan of the fig, but i've got to tell you...this stuff is good. i'm also serving it tomorrow alongside a meat and cheese platter for pre-turkey noshing. it's sticky sweet and studded with those perfect fig seeds that get caught in your teeth. it takes me back to childhood and memories of eating dozens of fig newtons in my grandmother's kitchen in michigan.

the recipe below won't have precise measurements because, let's be honest, i didn't measure the bread before i cut it, nor did i count the paper thin slices of pancetta...but i'm sure you can figure it out.

dalmatia fig spread
paper thin slices of pancetta
goat cheese
one large sweet (i used a mayan) onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
french bread (or ciabatta if you are feeling authentic)

special equipment:
panini press or
aluminum foil and a tea kettle (see below)

heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, then add the onions and some salt (a good sized pinch) to help them sweat. cook the onions slowly until they begin to brown and caramelize, then remove from heat and wipe out pan.

slice the bread in half lengthwise, and then spread the insides with the dalmatia. on the bottom half layer on the goat cheese, then the pancetta, and finally the onions. top with the...well, top of the bread.

i don't own a panini press, and though i think they are lovely machines my baltimore rowhome kitchen doesn't have the room for storing such luxuries, so i improvise when i make paninis. if you have a press, this will be a no brainer, but if not, read on. heat the same skillet with some olive oil (not a ton, but i do like the fresh flavor it i use about a tablespoon - but these are your sandwiches.) when it's medium high place the sandwich in the pan. fill your tea kettle with water and rip off a sheet of aluminum foil. cover the top of the sandwich with the foil and then balance the kettle on the sandwich. cook for about 3 minutes, then remove kettle and foil and flip sandwich (see it flattened it, right!?) repeat on the other side, remove from pan and marvel at how the flavors come together. enjoy.

this one is a no-brainer.
take bread, an amazing cured ham from italy, goat cheese, caramelized onions and add in fig spread and you are bound to have a success. this literally takes about 12 minutes, and as you can see i served it with salad...which makes me feel less guilty about the indulgent ingredients in the panini.


Live.Love.Eat said...

Jeesh. I thought I commented on this. Hmmm, that's odd. Anyhoo, it looks incredible!!!!! I love paninis. And the onions peeking out look to die for.

Corrinne said...

Yum! This looks really good! The combo of sweetness from the fig and the tangy from the goat cheese is probably amazing! Thanks!

Courtney said...

Thanks ladies!

Steph: I hate when that happens...sometimes I think I've posted and then I go back and ... nothing. I appreciate the though and the dedication it took to post twice! :)

Corrinne: Thanks! It's melt in your mouth good, really. I turned two people from goat cheese scared to goat cheese lovers in one meal flat. :)