Sometimes a blog is just a random thought off the top of one’s head (actually, that’s what they REALLY are supposed to be) but now they are a mashup of those random thoughts and a well documented or researched website with nice pictures. This blog post really is a random thought I had while putting together my dinner which was that sandwich you see above. Hero? sure. Sub? whatever. It’s a sandwich but hey, I love to get caught up in the “Italian” of it all and I actually (now you’ll hear my inner voice) call it a PANINO. Sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve had a PANINI right? That hot pressed sandwich that turned into a new food style and industry in the United States..supposedly just like they make them in Italy? Well that’s only partly true. There’s a difference between the PANINO of Italy and the PANINI marketed in the United States. First of all to be most correct, PANINI is just the plural of the Italian word for roll (small bread, bread in Italian is PANE, drop the E add the INO which means LITTLE and we have PANINO). There are many types of Panino breads in Italy, mostly round, or they will use a Bastone cut into pieces but it’s simply a sandwich. Most are served at room temperature and there are some hot pressed versions. There is generally a lot less in terms of cheeses and ingredients on the Italian versions. European sandwiches are never the staggering jaw breaking size of our supersized monsters. I remember seeing my first European sandwich in France and though..how cheap is this place??? There’s hardly anything in there!! Well I got used to it and when in Europe eat European. At home here in the States I like more American style but truth be told I hate anything that’s too big. So am I going to give you are recipe for a PANINO? Not at all. Just some info on how a more Italian PANINO is made. A few layers of sliced meats, some cheese, a dressing of some sort that can be as simple as Extra Virgin Olive Oil or some Lardo, or Mayo and maybe some tomato or onion or greens, but manageable. The single most important part of the more Italian PANINO is the bread…as we say, “Always get the Good Bread”. That means a sturdy Italian or Artisanal bread baked properly, not mush. How’s that for “GOOD BREAD”??? Those loaves are a sampling of what I mean by a good piece of bread baked by Melone Brothers Bakery in Staten Island. The “CONDIMENTO” I made for tonight’s PANINO could not be more simple. In a bowl mix 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 6 finely chopped basil leaves, 1 large well minced clove of garlic, pinch of Peperoncino, pinch of oregano. Then add 2 pints of sliced Grape or Cherry tomatoes in quarters. Mix. Let this sit for 3 hours at room temp. (covered of course). When making you PANINO drizzle some of that oil on both sides of the bread, then layer with sliced cured Italian meats, no more than 2 layers, and add some fresh mozzarella slices or sliced Sharp Italian imported Provolone and over that add some of the tomatoes and more of the dressing. This should make about 3-4 PANINI. No heating. No pressing. Just a sandwich with a load of flavor and kick.
You can add 1 tsp of vinegar to the mix too but I don’t care for the vinegar used when you are making a PANINO with fresh mozzarella. It’s one of those Italian rules that Americans break all the time. I’m with the Italians on that one.