One of America’s Favorites – Panini (sandwich)

April 1, 2013 at 8:11 AM | Posted in cooking | Leave a comment
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In Italy, panino (Italian pronunciation: [paˈniːno]) is the word for a sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread, in which case

Professional cast-iron panini machine

Professional cast-iron panini machine

Italians call it a tramezzino. Examples of bread types used are ciabatta, rosetta and baguette. The bread is cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients such as salami, ham, cheese, mortadella, or other food, and sometimes served warm after having been pressed by a warming grill. A toasted sandwich made from sliced bread is not called “panino” but “toast” or “tosto” by Italians, and is usually filled with ham and a few slices of cheese, and heated in sandwich press. A popular version of panino in Central Italy is filled with porchetta, slices of pork roasted with garlic, salt, rosemary, and sage.
In the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, the term panini has been adopted to refer to a pressed and toasted sandwich; there is widespread availability and use of sandwich presses, often known as “panini presses” or “toasted sandwich makers.”

 

The word panino [pa’ni:no] is Italian for “small bread roll“; its plural form is panini. The word is the diminutive form of pane (bread). In some English- and French-speaking countries, panini is sometimes used as a singular word (like salami, also an Italian plural noun) and sometimes incorrectly pluralized as paninis.
In Italian, panino refers properly to a bread roll and panino imbottito (stuffed panino) to a sandwich. Paninoteca is the word for a sandwich bar.
Panino is also often used to refer to a sandwich in general.

 

Although the first U.S. reference to panini dates to 1956, and a precursor appeared in a 16th-century Italian cookbook, the sandwiches became trendy in Milanese bars, called paninoteche, in the 1970s and 1980s. Trendy U.S. restaurants, particularly in New York, began selling panini, whose popularity then spread to other U.S. cities, each producing distinctive variations of it.
During the 1980s, the term paninaro was used to denote a youngsters’ culture typical of teenagers supposed to eat and meet in sandwich bars such as Milan’s Al Panino and then in the first US-style fast food restaurants opened in Italy. Paninari were depicted as fashion-fixated, vain individuals, delighting in showcasing early 1980s status symbols such as Timberland shoes, Moncler accessories, Ray-Ban sunglasses, and articles from Armani, Coveri, Controvento. They were lampooned in the Italia 1 comedy show Drive-in by Enzo Braschi. A track entitled “Paninaro” appears on Pet Shop Boys‘ albums Disco and Alternative.

 

Panini are cooked in specific grilling machines called either panini presses or simply panini machines. Domestic panini machines are usually made of teflon-coated metal or glass-ceramic, whereas professional units are made out of glass-ceramic or cast-iron. A few brands offer special features on their machines, such as cooking plates that can be removed for safe cleaning in the dishwasher.

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