Perfectly Practical #200 - Panini Without the Press

Strawberry Turkey Panino

Estate sale-ing is one of my very favorite pastimes.  I love looking at the houses, sifting through someone's history, and imagining what that person's life was like.  (If they have fabulous hats then I know we would have gotten along famously.)

Aside from hats, I always look in the kitchen for cast iron, unusual dishes, local cookbooks (especially if they are dog-eared and written in) and other neat kitchen-y items.

One particular estate sale I went to was at what one may call "Pary's Dream House."  It was built for entertaining from the foyer with the winding staircase to the large open formal spaces and the cozier casual spaces to the entire back of the house looking over the lush landscaping around the pool.  To give you some perspecitve, there was a good sized bright room off of the first kitchen with built-in bookshelves just for cookbooks!

Did you notice that I said the first kitchen?  Yes, there were two large fully furnished kitchens back-to-back; one was for the lady of the house to use and the other was for caterers.

Off of the second kitchen, there was a large pantry for gadgets.  Not to mention the several rooms upstairs that were dish and decoration rooms for all of the party stuffs.

Seriously.  D-R-E-A-M H-O-U-S-E.

I like kitchen gadgets as much as the next girl.  But here's the thing:  I don't have infinite amounts of space and I only have one kitchen.

I know.  Tragic.

With that in mind, I can't justify having surplus gadgets that only serve one purpose and will only be used once in a blue a panini press.

Instead, I use what I have on hand - two cast iron skillets.

Again, cast iron is just about the most versatile bit of kitchen paraphernalia.  I can use it to cook on the stove, in the oven, or on the grill, and as "Tangled" has shown us, it makes for an invaluable weapon against assailants.

To make a panino (the singular of panini) without a press:

  • Heat up two cast iron skillets with one being slightly smaller than the other.  If the larger of them is a griddle pan, all the better.  
  • Place the sandwich in the larger pan and use the bottom of the smaller skillet to press down on the top of the sandwich.  Make sure you are using something to protect your hands since the handles get hot.
  • Once you feel like the first side has been cooked to your liking, remove the top skillet and place it back on the burner to get hot again.
  • Flip the sandwich and replace the small skillet on top.
  • Voila!  You have a panino!
I don't use anything like butter or oil in my skillets to cook these but if your sandwich is sticking to either of the skillets, use a little cooking spray or put a tiny bit of oil on a paper towel and wipe down the skillets' surfaces that will be touching the food.

This is part of WFMW.


  1. Ahh, a home with two kitchens sounds like heaven--especially since my husband has recently developed an interest in cooking, as well, and we have a very tiny kitchen! I understand what you mean about justifying appliances that don't get used often! Your idea of using two cast iron skillets to create paninis is awesome; I'll have to give that a try!

    1. I think if I were to build my dream house, I would have two kitchen but one indoors and one off of the back of the house like they did in the olden days - have a "back kitchen." That way, the back kitchen could be used for canning and brewing so the house wouldn't get so hot. :)

  2. Wow, that house sounds ah-mazing! I would love a 2 kitchen house. I would have never thought about using 2 skillets to create a panini, great idea!

    1. The only down-side to a two kitchen house the double the cleaning. ;)

  3. Were we separated at birth honey??? I LOVE ESTATE SALE SHOPPING. Friday mornings finds me with a Starbucks coffee in one hand and the Dallas Morning News in the other - standing in line waiting for THE sale to start. It's slightly surreal to shuffle through someone's treasures that they have spent a lifetime collecting - I think there's a spiritual lesson in there somewhere. But I do enjoy and BTW, I have a friend that has a kitchen that's bigger than my entire hose with 4 ovens - and she doesn't cook. That's just wrong. I have made paninis like this many times, I have two bricks covered in foil that I place in the top skillet to weigh it down. I refuse to spend big bucks on a panini grill. I've also used an old Foreman's grill as well. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ha ha! We might have been Ms. Ronda. :) I also have a friend with a state-of-the-art top-of-the-line kitchen who doesn't cook. :) Good idea with the bricks.

  4. Replies
    1. It was incredible and the closets were insane! :)

  5. I saw Rachael Ray use a brick covered in tin foil as the top press, too. Or, you could also use a George Foreman grill. I couldn't see myself buying a panini press when there are so many other options.

    Thanks for your tips.


    1. The George Forman Grill was another one of those items that I had but realized was taking up space since I never used it.

  6. A 2 for 1! Sounds like how we ended up selling our quesadilla maker after hubby used the george foreman grill in a pinch. :-)

    1. I make our quesadillas in a cast iron skillet. Just assume that almost everything is made in a cast iron skillet around here. ;)


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