Sunday, November 27, 2011

Leftover Roasted Chicken Panini with Peppers and Caramelized Onion

Thanksgiving always raises a multitude of deep and important questions. Should the turkey be stuffed or unstuffed? Six side dishes or seven? Pumpkin pie or pecan? Why are the neighbors putting up Christmas lights before Thursday, and if they're planning that far ahead, where are their Valentine's day decorations? And is there any way to gracefully uninvite your cousin's sister's nephew's socially awkward girlfriend from coming to dinner, or at least to misdirect her GPS so she ends up at someone else's house?

But perhaps the most pressing question tends to emerge unexpectedly the day after Thanksgiving, just when we have been lulled into a false sense of tryptophan-imbued security. It's the question of leftovers. In particular, it is the question of what on earth to DO with all the leftovers. Especially after the fourth helping of leftovers shows no sign of diminishing the vast store left in the fridge.

Obviously, the best answer is the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. Until you consider that this sandwich could be grilled, and then you realize the Thanksgiving leftover PANINI is the best answer. (Paninis, incidentally, are the answer to 83.4% of the world's leftover problems, according to recent numbers I made up in my head while eating one.)* The other answer is not to make a turkey in the first place, but this is considered weird and unpatriotic if you're not a vegetarian and you might not want to admit to it outright on, for example, a blog. Despite the fact that a discerning reader might notice the lack of turkey in the recipe that follows. But you could totally make this with a turkey. If you had one. Which many people do.

Ingredients (per sandwich)
2 slices good-quality whole grain bread
Olive oil
Leftover roasted chicken, sliced or pulled into pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
A little pepper jack or Monterey jack cheese, grated (optional)
1/4 red onion and 1/4 red bell pepper, sliced into thin half rings and sauteed in olive oil until very sweet
A few baby mustard greens (or sub mustard frisee, arugula, or spinach)

Preheat your panini grill to medium-high. Lightly brush one side of the each bread slice with olive oil (these will become the outside of your panini). Layer your ingredients on the dry side of one of the bread slices: A light scattering of jack cheese first against the bread, then chicken seasoned with black pepper to taste, then sauteed onion and peppers, then a few greens, then the second piece of bread (olive oil side up).

Sandwich your sandwich inside your panini grill and press down lightly until the grill is fully against the bread. Grill until golden brown on both sides. Serve hot.

*You might reply: "Oh, but I don't have a panini grill." To which I would helpfully suggest: "You should totally get a panini grill." To which you might respond: "Oh, but I don't know if I would use it." Which is when I would say: "You know, I think I read somewhere recently that you could solve 83.4% of your leftover problems if you invested in a panini grill, and paninis are just regular old sandwiches that you would make anyway thrown on a grill for a couple minutes, which transmogrifies them into an infinitely more delicious, warm, grilled, succulent, wonderful, amazing, fantastically ambrosial meal." To which you would respond: "Oh, really? I'm completely convinced! What panini grill do you have?" And I would say "I'm thrilled that you're convinced! Our panini grill is a De'Longhi, which is hard to spell and I'm not sure if I have done so correctly, but it makes good paninis regardless." And then we would probably stop conversing because we'd notice that we were only hypothetical and get distracted by whether a panini imagined by imaginary people would taste the same as a real panini, which is one of those Buddhist koans you don't hear as frequently as the hand-clapping thing.

1 comment:

  1. We just got a panini grill for Christmas! Now we won't have to go ghetto griddle pan style anymore. Power to the panini makers!!