Poor Man’s Paninni Press


Go ahead, spend your hard earned dollars on an electric paninni press, yet another one of those counter space hogging single-use appliances. But let me tell you what the hip kids do: wrap a brick in aluminum foil, put your sandwich in the pan and plop that brick on top. Turn the sandwich once, and you’ve got paninni.

This kitchen hack will keep you out of trouble with the spouses, partners and housemates who glare at yet more kitchen gadgets. And you’ll still be able to enjoy hot and delicious, horizontally-coerced Italian sandwiches.

lodge cast iron paninni pressBut the hipper kids might have a Lodge cast iron paninni press. For what the aluminum wrapped brick lacks is the ability to make those special paninni grooves across the surface of the bread. Plus you can preheat the Lodge press and avoid having to flip your sandwich. But, you might still face rage from housemates intent on radical decluttering.

I have no personal experience with the Lodge paninni press. Do any of you? Is this something I should order, in a late night Amazon binge, the next time Kelly is visiting relatives?

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  1. That’s funny, I’ve been doing a similar pannini hack myself lately.
    We use cast iron pans and so all I’ve done is use a little butter and olive oil on the bread slices, and put a piece of foil on top of the sandwich and put a smaller cast iron pan on top of the foil. Then I’ll press down a bit on it for 20 seconds or so and voila, nicely seared bread, no need for bricks, etc….

  2. My faux paninni press trick is to use a half-filled tea kettle as the weight (with the requisite tin foil on top of the sandwich). The kettle lives on the stove anyway, so it easy to grab…

  3. Don’t do it! It’s a passing consumer urge. Nested cast iron pans, bricks, and tea kettles work just fine for this purpose.

  4. I used to use a similarly rustic hack for making lebneh – I’d line a colander with a couple of layers of paper towels, t it in a bowl, dump the yogurt in, tuck the paper towel over the top, and place a cleaned-out & lidded yogurt tub full of pebbles & water on top to press the whey out.

  5. If you really want the grooves, take an angle grinder and cut them into your cast iron pans. Definitely wait til Kelly leaves for that, though.

  6. I have the Lodge panini press AND one of their square griddles that’s flat on one side and has ridges on the other side. I love it! Yes, they’re extra kitchen things, but I use them all the time (along with our regular cast iron skillet). Paninis are such a great way to use up small amounts of leftovers and the ridges are like a little luxury item ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sure, it’s a consumer indulgence, but it’s not too expensive, it lasts forever, doesn’t break, and if you change your mind someone else will definitely want to use it. I say go for it!

  7. I have a Pampered Chef cast iron grill press and love it. The handle on top makes it easy to use. You can also use it for grilled chicken or bacon (humanely raised, of course!) if you are having single purpose guilt. But I confess, I have always been a sucker for cooking equipment.

  8. The nice thing about foil-wrapped bricks is that they have other uses, too. We like to heat a couple of them up on the grill, then smoosh ’em into a spatchcocked chicken to cook it fast and crispy on the grill. You couldn’t do that with a cast iron panini press — it wouldn’t be heavy enough, and the heat would ruin the season. Bricks are better and more versatile for my money any day.

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