Friday, November 11, 2011

Cranberry, turkey & cheddar panini sandwich

Have I yet mentioned how much I love my new Cuisinart Griddler that I received a few weeks ago at my bridal shower?  No?  Let me count the ways...

1. It's a panini press, grill, and griddle all in one!
2. Cleaning is a cinch -- pop off the plates, wash, and towel dry.  Easy peasy.
3. I feel so gosh darn cutting edge using this.  I once envied Giada every time she'd whip up a panini and press it with ease.  Now look at me!  Giada better watch out, giant smile and all.
4. Storage is a breeze.  No worries about scratching the nonstick surfaces because the whole thing folds up and protects itself.
5. The temperature settings on it are legit.  Some griddles have ambiguous settings of "warm, warmer, hot"... what is that?!  Oh yes, I'd like my burger done "hot" please.  Lame.

All of those are dandy reasons on their own (seriously, you must get your own Griddler), but if you still need more, particularly something visually tempting, this is for you.  100% my new favorite sandwich -- the Thanksgiving panini!

We're barely into November and I'm already talking about Christmas Thanksgiving!'re darn right, I am.  To a foodie, Thanksgiving is probably the most anticipated holiday of the year.  So much delicious food, and much of it only comes out to play once a year, so better get while the getting's good, right?  I try to sample everything, even if it's just a spoonful of the yummy dish makes it onto my plate.  It's that attitude about stuffing (mmm soaked bread...) that has me wishing for Thanksgiving pants as I slip into the quintessential food coma.

Not this year!  Okay, probably this year.  But if I skip a few things, I certainly won't be wearing a frown until next November because I can fall back on this sandwich any day I desire.  It's got all of the elements of a traditional turkey day spread, just mixed up a bit.

The bread!  No holiday meal, at least in the Kemp family, would be complete without rolls.  Stepping it up a notch, I picked up a nice fluffy French baguette and cut a section for myself.

Cranberry sauce!  Use it or lose it, so I used the remaining cranberry sauce from the pork chops I made a few nights before.  (Round one recipe found here!) Totally patted myself on the back for adding dried cranberries to the original recipe, since they had plumped up even more in the fridge.

Turkey!  Low-sodium and sliced at the deli, to be exact.  What would a Thanksgiving panini be without the bird?

Cheddar cheese!  I love anything scalloped and gratined (i.e. potatoes) because cheese gets invited to the party.  Sharp cheddar cheese bringing some salt and gooey melty deliciousness home for the win.  

I'm not gonna lie -- as I looked at the sandwich I had just built, I was honestly wondering how on earth I was going to eat it.  It was mile-high, yo.  And that's when the press became my best friend.  Because he muscled that sandwich into submission:

Much easier to tackle now, thanks, G!  

(Yes, I just decided to refer to my Griddler as G.  It's going to stick, so get on board.)

I could hardly wait until this was done.  Once the cheese started to melt and the cranberry sauce began to ooze, there was hissing and sizzling that I couldn't ignore!  Barely got one picture of it plated before I wolfed down the salad (plain spinach, necessary vegetable) and dug into the sammy.

Holy bird!  You might want to sit down for this.  Ready?  Um, I like this so much better than Thanksgiving turkey.  Gasp!  Turkey is good, great even.  But this panini is outstanding!  Sweet, salty, melty, chewy, it's got it all.  There aren't enough words to aptly describe this sandwich.  So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make plans to have this for dinner again next week and add a few items to my grocery list.  You should probably do the same.

Have a fantastic weekend!  Start it off by thinking of something for which you're grateful.  Today I am thankful for my Griddler :)  Oh, and those snow flurries I spotted out my window this morning.  Yes!!

A few notes: If you don't have a panini press, don't let that stop you.  You have a few options.  Make the sandwich and pop it under the broiler to warm everything through.  Or make in the same manner as a grilled cheese.  Or, hey, go cold turkey if you like!

One Year Ago: Ravioli with apples and walnuts
Two Years Ago: Oatmeal raisin cookies

Thanksgiving Panini

Ciabatta, baguette, bread, or other roll
Cranberry sauce (from this recipe or straight out of the can!)
6-8 ounces sliced turkey
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat panini press.  Spread sauce on the inside faces of the roll or bread.  On one side layer the turkey and cheese.  Finish with the top of the sandwich.  Place on Griddler, smash, cook until cheese begins to melt and sizzle.  Remove, cut in half (if you have issues with gigantic sandwiches), and enjoy immediately!

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