At our house, there is a general feeling of love toward good sandwiches. When it is make-your-own-sandwich dinner night at our house, creativity surges. Interesting combinations of meats, cheeses, veggies, and spreads are commonplace.
Although a well-filled sandwich is delightful, a well-filled sandwich that also includes hot, melted cheese is enthralling. While we could make these sandwiches in the tried and true manner of grilling in a frying pan, the idea of having a panini press was pretty exciting. We could make toasty sandwiches that would be well compacted and have nice grill marks.
Thus began the journey to find the right panini press. The first decision was whether a stovetop or electric model would be the better option. The electric model was eliminated fairly quickly for two reasons. One, electric presses need counter space, and our counters are pretty filled as is. Two, electric presses tend to be bigger and need a larger space for storage. With a basement and pantry filled with our assorted kitchen appliances, I didn’t feel like adding one more.
Once I had the decision narrowed down to stovetop, I studied our options. Some manufacturers sell just the press, meaning you use your frying pan with their weighted press. As we didn’t have a grill pan, this option wouldn’t work unless I wanted grill marks only one side of each sandwich. Other manufactures make a press that is two-sided but has incredibly long handles. While the long handles would be nice if working over a campfire, it seemed like a bit of a hazard in our kitchen.
Eliminating those options led me to our purchase of the All-Clad Gourmet Accessories Panini with Press. A two-piece cookware item, it was exactly what I was seeking. The bottom is a non-stick, anodized aluminum grill pan with a stainless steel handle. It fits nicely on the stove and works best on a larger burner. The press (or top) is also made of non-stick, anodized aluminum but is much heaving. It does a great job of compressing your sandwich.
The size of this pan is perfect for making sandwiches of all sizes. If using typical sandwich-style bread, you can cook two sandwiches at once. When using longer, panini-style bread, only one sandwich can be cooked. If you prefer to make a panini wrap, you can fit that into this pan quite nicely also.