Grilled Chicken and Mozzarella Panini

Do y’all Panini?  In case you haven’t heard of them or seen them or tasted them, it’s basically just a grilled sandwich, grilled with a fancy-named machine.  Me?  I don’t have a fancy panini machine.  I’ve got a knock-off of a George Foreman grill from probably 10 years ago when those GF grills were all the rage.  That’s what I use.  But it’s effective, so who cares right?

I sorta started panini’ing by accident.  I just thought I’d give it a whirl and see whether I could make a panini with my pitiful little GF knock-off grill.  Lo and behold, it worked!  Now, my family thinks paninis are the best thing in the world! 

So my last foreign exchange student is in town visiting.  And while I didn’t make paninis during her time with our family, I made her one on one of her first visits back.  Now that’s one of her favorite things I ever made!  A sandwich, of all things!

So when she first got here a couple weeks ago, I did paninis one night for dinner.  I started out by making the bread dough.  I wanted something that would compliment that flavors I planned to put on the panini.  And couldn’t find any bread that worked, so I decided to make it myself.  I made a Sun-Dried and Basil Tomato Foccacia bread.  Sounds fancy, but it was easy!  Here’s how I made it:

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Foccacia Bread

*  4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

*  1 tsp. salt

*  minced garlic and lots of it!

*  15 fresh basil leaves, chopped

*  1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, drained and rinsed, then chopped small)

*  10-12 oz. warm water

*  4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour

*  1 cup very finely grated parmesan cheese

*  1 pkg. yeast

Pour oil, water and salt in Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl.  Add garlic and flour.  Sprinkle yeast on top.  Knead with dough hook about 5 minutes or until well combined.  Add basil, tomatoes and cheese and knead until they are incorporated into the dough.  Divide dough into 8 buns, shaping into ovals. 

***NOTE:  I used my Pampered Chef stone bar pan for this.  I laid the dough out on the stone, then brushed the tops with olive oil, covered with a dish towel and set them on my deck to rise. 

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 25-30 minutes, misting with water every 5 minutes until done.  This keeps the outside of the dough from being hard.  Set aside to cool.

Before I grilled the chicken for the paninis, I marinated it.  I wanted it to have lots of flavor!  I used a small bottle of Italian dressing and 1 pkg. of dry Italian dressing mix poured over boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I let them marinate about 4 hours before grilling them. 

The “sauce” for the panini was a knock-off of a dipping sauce served at Buca di Beppo, one of our very favorite Italian restaurants.  They have this pesto dipping sauce for one of their appetizers that’s just to die for.  My sauce wasn’t nearly as good, but it worked.

Pesto Mayo

*  2 cups mayo (good quality ONLY!)

*  1 tube pesto

*  4 cloves garlic, minced very fine

Mix together until well blended.  This stuff would be good on DIRT!

Now you’re ready to start building your paninis!

Here’s the Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Foccacia Bread.  Please excuse the photo.  It’s just not all that focused.  Sorry!  But trust me, the bread was WAY honkin’ better than the photo!

Split each piece of bread and spread the Pesto Mayo on each side.

Add a handful of Argula or whatever green you might like on each bread half.  The arugula is a little spicy and peppery which really complimented the other toppings!

Now add slices of Roma tomato on top of the arugula.  I didn’t get a picture, but I added fresh-cracked pepper on top of the tomatoes.  I LOVE fresh-cracked pepper!

Oh my!  Now here comes the good part!  Add slices of fresh mozzarella cheese on each sandwich.  I implore you, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, don’t use anything but fresh mozzarella cheese.  Go to the deli section of your market and look for it.  Sometimes it will look like a little ball.  Sometimes it will be in a longer package.  Fresh mozzarella is very soft.  And there is absolutely NO comparison between fresh mozzarella and that stuff you get in the regular dairy section of the store.  I promise!  Give it a try!  You won’t be sorry!


Top the mozzarella with sliced grill chicken. 

HOO BOY!  Just look at that!  It’s ready to hit the panini machine or the George Foreman or the griddle or whatever you want to use.  You could  even do this on the outside grill if you put something heavy on top of the sandwich to mash it down, then flip and grill on the other side.

And this is what you end up with!  Awesomeness on a plate!  This thing was absolutely delectable!  I served it with a Caprese Salad to tie in the tomato/mozzarella/basil theme and an Orzo Salad.  I’ll share that one with you another day!

Enjoy!  Now go panini and report back!

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6 Responses

  1. What a pretty sandwich, Amy!

  2. WHO CARES HOW PRETTY IT LOOKED (& IT DID)!! THE THING WAS TOO GOOD FOR WORDS!!!! MELT CHEESE ON ANYTHING & I’M THERE!!

  3. awesomeness indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my gosh! I really need to get me a panini pan! My mouth is watering!

  4. I don’t have a GF either….I got rid of it! WAAAAAA!

  5. the rocket prefer not to!

  6. […] Grilled Chicken and Mozzarella Panini: I started out by making the bread dough. I wanted something that would compliment that flavors I planned to put on the panini. And couldn’t find any bread that worked, so I decided to make it myself. I made a Sun-Dried and Basil Tomato Foccacia bread. Sounds fancy, but it was easy! Here’s how I made it. Recipes found at What’s Cookin Good Lookin. […]

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