Grill-Pressed Italian Party Panini
Fourth of July is the biggest grilling holiday of the year, making it a celebration of the tradition of cooking over a live fire as much as it about our independence. You can't talk of this grand American holiday without mention of one of the pinnacles of our society—excess. A prime example of this is the giant party sub, which is impractical, overly expensive, and often trades quality for quantity, all reasons we love it so much. So on this Fourth, why not combine a few symbols of American culture, ingenuity, and glut and grill an oversized Italian party panini, only I insure you this one is a sandwich of the highest order.
I got this recipe Wicked Good Barbecue, a book I can't recommend enough for taking barbecue and grilling to places I have not seen any previous cookbook. Each recipe I've tried so far has also been well thought out and ends in success, and this party sub proves that claim. It does not merely throw meat on an Italian loaf and call it a day, but goes through a process of creation that begins with a vinaigrette that is used as a marinade for veggies.
And those veggies go a bit beyond the standard, using thinly sliced red onion, roma tomatoes, and fennel. These are set in the marinade and left to soak for twenty minutes, after which they're removed, leaving the vinaigrette infused with extra flavor and makes it an extra-tasty dip for the finished sandwich.
Next a set of Italian meats and cheese—mortadella, Genoa salami, hot capicola, and provolone—are layered onto the largest Italian loaf that will fit on the grill. For a 22" kettle, a one and half foot loaf works nicely, but if you have a larger grill, go nuts making this sandwich as big as you can manage, that's what a Fourth of July sub is all about!
As if the sub is not impressive enough already, the grill is employed to make is extra amazing. The behemoth is placed over medium-low direct heat and weighted down by bricks placed on a baking sheet for better balance and to evenly dispense the weight across and sandwich. Then the grill is covered and the sub cooks until the cheese melts along the edges and sandwich is warmed through and well pressed.
This was seriously one the greatest things that came off my grill in a while. Even though my sturdy bread didn't press down as much as I had hoped, the grill left the sandwich with a great crusty crunch that gave way to a sea of outstanding meats, a sharp and slightly melted provolone, and veggies that added a nice tang, snap, and a little heat. This was a near masterpiece of a panini and so impressive in size and scope, it should be a no brainer for your Fourth of July celebration.
Grill-Pressed Italian Party Panini
- Yield 4-6 servings
- Prep 25 Minutes
- Inactive 20 Minutes
- Cook 15 Minutes
- Total 1 Hour
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small red onions, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
- 5 roma tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/2 fennel bulb, tops and core removed, slice paper thin
- 1 large Italian-style bread loaf, about 1 1/2 feet long, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced mortadella
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced hot capicola
- 10 pepperoncinis, stems removed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded, cored, and cut into large pieces
- 5 leaves romaine lettuce, washed and dried
- 3-6 bricks, wrapped in aluminum foil
- In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, parsley, shallot, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Season heavily with salt and pepper.
- Add in red onion, tomatoes, and fennel. Toss to thoroughly coat vegetables in vinaigrette. Let vegetables rest in vinaigrette for 20 minutes, tossing again halfway through. Strain vegetables into a bowl and reserve remaining vinaigrette.
- Open up bread and layer on mortadella, salami, provolone, and hot capicola. Top with marinated vegetables, pepperoncinis, red peppers, and lettuce.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place bricks on grill, cover grill and let fire cool down to medium-low, between 300-325 degrees. Transfer sub to grill and place a large sheet pan on top of sandwich. Wearing well insulated grilling gloves, carefully balance bricks on sheet pan. Cover grill and cook until cheese has started to melt and sandwich has flattened, about 15 minutes. Remove sandwich from grill, slice into 4-6 portions and serve with reserved vinaigrette.
Adapted from Wicked Good Barbecue
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Chris I haven't seen a lot of grillers marinate vegetables but it is a small touch that makes a big difference, like you said. I always marinate my veggies for fajitas too, it really boosts the flavors.