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Tips for Making Great Grilled Sandwiches

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Melissa was a great baker in our test kitchen, the product of two culinary schools. Alas, she’s moved on to other pastures. Before she left, we sat down and quizzed her about the grilled sandwiches she was so fond of.

Here is what she said:

PP: Melissa, those were great grilled sandwiches that you prepared for our newsletter.  Can you give us some advice?

Melissa:  Well, it’s hard to go wrong with a grilled sandwich—just use good ingredients and serve them while they are hot.

PP: Come on, Melissa.  There’s more to it than that.

Melissa:  Not much.  I like to get all my ingredients staged on the counter before I begin cooking.  Then I’m not rummaging through the refrigerator looking for condiments while my sandwich is burning.

That’s especially important when you are using a cast iron panini press.  With the heat from the cast iron, heat from top and bottom, the sandwich cooks quickly.

PP: Anything else when using a panini press?

Melissa:  Make sure you get both the pan and press hot before you start.  Oh, and make sure the sandwich is well-oiled.  If you like butter, use butter.  If you like olive oil, well—use that. Make your sandwiches a little thicker; the press will make them thinner.

PP:  What’s the best part of a grilled sandwich?

Melissa: For me, it’s the melted cheese.  I like the cheese really melted, oozing out the edges.  Oh, and I like good quality cheese.

PP:  Are there any of those sandwiches left?

Melissa:  I doubt it.

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Grilled Rueben Sandwiches

This is a classic.  We made it on our Black Russian (Pumpernickel) Bread.

We didn’t overwhelm it with sauerkraut and it was just right.

Ingredients

4 slices of bread, thickly sliced
Thousand Island salad dressing
Swiss cheese, very thinly sliced
Deli-style corned beef, thinly sliced
sauerkraut
olive oil or melted butter

Directions

Spread one side of each slice of bread with the Thousand Island dressing.  Place a layer of cheese on one slice of bread over the dressing, then corned beef, then sauerkraut, and then another layer of cheese.  Top with another slice of bread.  Brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil or melted butter.

Cook on the heated grill pan or griddle, cheese side down and topped with a panini press until crisp and golden.  If you are not using a panini press, turn the sandwich after one side is cooked.

Baker’s note:  The cheese is placed next to the bread so that it will melt easily while grilling.

Grilled Salmon Sandwiches

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My mother made a cheese and tuna melt sandwich—nothing fancy but better than either tuna or cheese alone.  Those sandwiches inspired this recipe.

This recipe calls for salmon but works for any fish, even canned tuna.  You can choose your favorite cheese. 

Ingredients

1 salmon fillet, about 5 ounces, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoon sweet relish
2 green onions, chopped (optional)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (optional)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste
1 slice cheese, mozzarella or other, for each sandwich
bread
butter

Directions

  1. Mix the crumbled salmon, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chopped onion, and celery together with a fork.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Spread on bread slices.  Top with additional slices of bread.
  2. Spread butter on both sides of the sandwich and grill in a moderately hot skillet, turning once, until the bread is fried to a golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Grilled Bacon and Cheese Sandwich

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Grilled cheese is America’s favorite grilled sandwich.  Slipping a little ham in with the cheese is common—but how about bacon?  We prefer bacon over ham in our grilled sandwich.  This one is made on sourdough bread and makes a wonderful, hearty sandwich for those cooler days ahead.

Ingredients

2 slices of bacon for each sandwich
sourdough bread, sliced
butter
cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Cook the bacon until it is almost crisp.  Drain it on paper towels.
  2. Put the cheese between slices of bread. Heat some butter in a pan, grill, orpanini press.  Add the bacon and then cook sandwich in the pan. If you are not using a panini press, gently press down with a spatula once or twice during the grilling.
  3. When one side is golden, add more butter, turn the sandwich over, and then cook until the second side is golden.

About the Author

Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon.

Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.