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Panini Grills and Presses: Which to Buy?


glenn
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I have found that I can make a pretty respectable panini on an imitation George Foreman that I go at Kmart for $30. That would be $50 more for sammich ingredients. :biggrin:

Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

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I have two, the VillaWare Pro press which I bought myself

and the Glass one pictured next to the VillaWare which was a gift.

I use the first for "normal" thickness sandwiches and the glass one for very thick ones on very crusty bread or rolls.

Most of the Foreman ones I have seen used for panini smash the sandwiches on the hinge side because the tops do not "float" enough.

There is a less expensive one sold at Amazon, the Breville, that a friend has and it is much better than the others she tried and is less than $50.00. I know she had a Foreman that she returned to the store and was going to order the VillaWare but came across the Breville and decided to try it.

She says it has an adjustable top so doesn't smash the back half of the sandwiches the way the Foreman did.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've got the Krups and am pretty happy with it. I use it for sandwiches, meats, vegetables, and quick nachos/pita chips. I recently discovered I can make toast on it too if I don't butter/oil the bread before putting it on.

My only complaints: 1. There is no on/off switch on my model. It's on when I plug it in and you have to pull the plug to turn it off. 2. There is no thermostat. Its full power all the time. This is not a real complaint because I have not needed a lower setting. 3. It seems to take a long time to heat up and can cool quickly if you put a large piece of meat on it. Otherwise I love it. The hinged top is great but a little stiff and will sometimes squirt a big sandwich out if you don't hold it down (with a towel or heat pad) until it "grabs." My mother has the Villaware (I think). It has a thermostat and drip spout, ala George Forman, that allows grease to run out. I personally think the Forman spout and grill angle allow too much flavor to drain away as well.

Edited by BeJam (log)

Bode

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I didn't realize the Krups didn't have a thermostat. That's a dealbreaker for me. And I've heard the about the Foreman being a problem crushing the sandwich. The villaware looks very sturdy and I like the floating design and adjustable temperature. Is this the one being referred to?

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Thanks Mark, but I'm looking one for my home for the time being so I can experiment. I've narrowed down the commercial presses to 2 manufacturers - Cecilware or Sodir. However, for various reasons (including electrical and space considerations), I don't wanna put a commercial machine in my home. But I'd like to duplicate it as closely as possible.

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I didn't realize the Krups didn't have a thermostat.  That's a dealbreaker for me.  And I've heard the about the Foreman being a problem crushing the sandwich.  The villaware looks very sturdy and I like the floating design and adjustable temperature.  Is this the one being referred to?

That's the one and the Krups does have a hinged lid its just a little stiff.

Bode

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Obviously, this wouldn't work for a commercial application:

A few months ago, I was just dying to get a panini grill. I have a serious addiction to kitchen gadgets and appliances, but I live in an apartment -- there just isn't a lot of space. I had a hard time justifying that much space (and money) for a machine that does nothing but make sandwiches. Yes, they are amazing... but...

I opted for a brick. Home depot special, 22 cents each (I got two). I use a grill pan and press down the sandwiches with the bricks (wrapped in foil)... flip half-way through cooking, it makes absolutely delicious, crispy pressed grilled sandwiches.

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Obviously, this wouldn't work for a commercial application:

A few months ago, I was just dying to get a panini grill. I have a serious addiction to kitchen gadgets and appliances, but I live in an apartment -- there just isn't a lot of space. I had a hard time justifying that much space (and money) for a machine that does nothing but make sandwiches. Yes, they are amazing... but...

I opted for a brick. Home depot special, 22 cents each (I got two). I use a grill pan and press down the sandwiches with the bricks (wrapped in foil)... flip half-way through cooking, it makes absolutely delicious, crispy pressed grilled sandwiches.

Try a half chicken that has been flattened, then cooked with your brick on top in the grill pan. Can't think of what they call it in Italian but it sure is good. Ah there it is from Santi in Geyserville Ca. :"Galletto al Mattone 18.00

Boneless half of a young chicken cooked under a brick with farro and sautéed zucchini, summer squash and torpedo onion"

Edited by winesonoma (log)

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Actually the VillaWare does not have an on/off switch either. However I have mine plugged into a power block that has on/of switches for each individual receptacle.

My big Cuisinart (20 cup) has an admonition to not leave it plugged in when not in use and it also is plugged into this power block as is the Vita-Mix blender.

This power block, with a short, heavy extension cord is made for shop equipment and rated for 60 amps and has its own overload breaker.

After having a kitchen fire many years ago caused by coffeemaker, I have been somewhat of a fanatic about electrical safety, particularly in the kitchen.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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When we first moved into our house the old stove was unusable. We were craving a hot ham and cheese sandwich, so I pulled out an old waffle iron and it worked great. My husband has even taken it in to work to grill a sandwich much to the amusement of his coworkers. It works great and makes a fun lunch!

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When we first moved into our house the old stove was unusable. We were craving a hot ham and cheese sandwich, so I pulled out an old waffle iron and it worked great. My husband has even taken it in to work to grill a sandwich much to the amusement of his coworkers. It works great and makes a fun lunch!

I collect antique or "vintage" appliances and many of the old ones were "dual-purpose" having a set of waffle irons and a set of plain plates, some had reversable plates.

Many of these are works of art in and of themselves with beautiful art deco detailing.

Some have been so well cared-for that they look nearly new with bright shiny chrome and bakelite handles, feet, etc.

I have them all checked and rewired before use. There is a wizard of small appliances in the west valley who has been doing my small appliance repairs and restoration for 35 or more years.

Sometimes I take him some really oddball items but he is always up to the task and does the job every time.

I recently got this one made in 1931 for a really bargain price.

By the time Fred gets the plates cleaned, it will look like new. Note the nifty art deco design. At that time esthetics were as important as efficiency.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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That Deco sandwich iron is really awesome!! I love stuff like that.

When I was growing up we had one that was similar in shape but not nearly as beautifully decorated. The top lid was completely hinged so you could get the top absolutely flat on the sandwich without messing it up, squirting out the insides or making the bread uneven. I wish I still had it!!

Katie M. Loeb
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That Deco sandwich iron is really awesome!!  I love stuff like that.

When I was growing up we had one that was similar in shape but not nearly as beautifully decorated.  The top lid was completely hinged so you could get the top absolutely flat on the sandwich without messing it up, squirting out the insides or making the bread uneven.  I wish I still had it!!

I just missed getting one last month that was a single sandwich size and in beautiful condition.

this one

I was outbid at the last minute by a friend who has a craftsman home in Pasadena and has completely redone the kitchen as it was when the house was first built. Silly me, I happened to mention the sandwich grill being on eBay and she jumped at the chance.

I did beat her out for a toaster of the same era that is also a beauty.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I just missed getting one last month that was a single sandwich size and in beautiful condition. 

this one

I was outbid at the last minute by a friend who has a craftsman home in Pasadena and has completely redone the kitchen as it was when the house was first built.  Silly me, I happened to mention the sandwich grill being on eBay and she jumped at the chance. 

I did beat her out for a toaster of the same era that is also a beauty.

Andie:

That other one is so cool!!! You've definitely started what might become a dangerous obsession for me. Collecting Vintage Kitchen appliances!!! Just what I need to complment my vintage barware collection since the kitchen and dining room are ajoined.. :cool:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I bought a Krup's this morning (FYI, it is the same price at Williams-Sonoma as Amazon.)

WOW-does this thing do something great to bread!!! I had no idea. Now I did use a fresh Acme sourdough, but even so, it tasted better! Crispy, crunchy, with the ingredients all pressed together...

With Marlena's book for inspiration, we'll be cooking some great quick dinners after work!

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I thought I would bump this discussion back up after seeing George Foreman and his Lean Mean Grilling Machine on NBC's Today Show this morning.

George Foreman on the Today Show

There's a video of the segment that you can watch. Click on the "Launch" button to see it.

George was on the Today Show because there's a new version of the Lean Mean Grilling Machine out. The grilling surfaces can now be removed and put into the dishwasher to be cleaned. Also, I think I saw in the video of the segment that the lid has more "give" to it and seemed to lie flatter on top of the food than in previous versions.

Has anyone seen this new version in person? Does the lid actually have more "give" to it?

On a side note, George said in the segment that they've sold 50 million grilling machines. :blink:

 

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FWIW: The brick pressed chicken is alla matone.

My panino is made on a grill pan weighted with a cast iron pan smaller than the grill pan and further weighted by a 28 oz. can of tomatoes.

__________________________________

I have an ancient bacon press - 10 inches in diameter, cast iron, with little "pegs" on the pressing surface - weighs 8 + pounds. It can be used in a grill pan or just any old cast iron skillet to duplicate the action of a panini grill.

I use it for pressing things on long rolls, similar to a "po-boy" or similar on really crusty "rustic" rolls or loaves. These tend to push the top of the panini grill back up, while the heavy weight of the bacon press doesn't give at all.

You can get similar ones, square or round, though not quite as heavy, at restaurant supply places. Those have the advantage of having a wood handle. Mine is solid cast iron and you need a good thick glove to grab it.

When I am going to grill a fresh ham steak, (they always curl like mad) I set the press in the pan so it heats up too, slap the ham steak in the pan and place the press. After I turn the steak it takes only a minute or so to brown, the heat from the press has cooked it.

Here is one - nearly as big. but not quite as heavy.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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That is great news. I love the Forman grill, but I often don't bother with it because cleaning it is such a pain in the butt. So the new one is now on my wish list.

:smile:

I don't think I'd want to put a non-stick surface in the dishwasher for fear of scratches. However on a recent visit to Bed Bath Beyond I found some George Forman Grill Sponges for $5. They're two-sided (soft/scrub) and grooved to fit between the grill ridges. I don't have a forman, but I think they should work just as well on the krups. They're not listed on the BBB website but I found them here:

foreman sponges'

Until now, I'd been using a soft brush to get into the rather tight valleys of the krups, then, because there's no drip tray, I had to flush it out with a low pressure from the hose to not get water into any electrical parts. I guess I'll still have to do the last part.

Bode

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I'm with DaleJ and Pandorphus. I have better uses for storage space than a machine to press/toast sandwiches. I prefer the cast iron pan which is more multipurpose than the brick. :biggrin:

For those with families, a dedicated appliance might be worth its space, though.

edited to reference DaleJ's post as I had erroneously quoted the one below his.

Edited by Mottmott (log)

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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