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Panini Grills and Presses: Which to Buy?


glenn
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I understand the temptation because I love new toys in the kitchen, and this one is beautiful to behold. But just think...do you really need to make 30 toasted cheese sandwiches in an hour. You probably will get more real enjoyment out of the machine you already have.

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This thread is suddenly reminding me that, when I was a young teen in the early 1960s, my mom had acquired an alectric sandwich griddle / press - I'm not sure what to call it.  Of course we never said "panini grill" back then.

Instead of being hinged to the base, the top element slid up & down on two vertical rods, so there was no problem grilling extra-thick sandwiches evenly on both sides.

This was clearly a device ahead of its time.  I think it was big enough to do two sandwiches but I'm not certain about that.  I don't remember who made it, but it sure  turned out fine grilled sandwiches!  :biggrin:

Wondering if anyone else remembers anything like this from days of yore?

Sounds like what we had at home when I was a kid-- flat on one side of the plates, and you could flip them for waffles on the other side. We found it easier though to just do grilled cheese sandwiches in a pan. Clean-up was much easier as this was before non-stick came around.....

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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This thread is suddenly reminding me that, when I was a young teen in the early 1960s, my mom had acquired an alectric sandwich griddle / press - I'm not sure what to call it.  Of course we never said "panini grill" back then.

Instead of being hinged to the base, the top element slid up & down on two vertical rods, so there was no problem grilling extra-thick sandwiches evenly on both sides.

This was clearly a device ahead of its time.   I think it was big enough to do two sandwiches but I'm not certain about that.  I don't remember who made it, but it sure  turned out fine grilled sandwiches!   :biggrin:

Wondering if anyone else remembers anything like this from days of yore?

Sounds like what we had at home when I was a kid-- flat on one side of the plates, and you could flip them for waffles on the other side. We found it easier though to just do grilled cheese sandwiches in a pan. Clean-up was much easier as this was before non-stick came around.....

Oh yes! I am very familiar with these appliances, there were several designs that allowed the plates to remain parallel while pressing a sandwich. In fact they were known as "Sandwich Press" or "Sandwich Iron" and the early ones did not have reverseable plates. You had a separate appliance that was a waffle iron and often they were made to match, with identical handles, decorative elements and size. (Have you guessed that I have collected some of these?)

I am at my office and do not have access to my own photos.

Here is an example of one of the vintage sandwich grills which were very popular in the 30s and 40s.

Note: This one is less commong than many you see on ebay because it has the white or "ivory" bakelite handles. Most were black or brown because the white tended to discolor over time. Very rare are the ones with red or green bakelite handles - often these colors turned black after years of use.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"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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[

Sounds like what we had at home when I was a kid-- flat on one side of the plates, and you could flip them for waffles on the other side.  We found it easier though to just do grilled cheese sandwiches in a pan.  Clean-up was much easier as this was before non-stick came around.....

Oh yes! I am very familiar with these appliances, there were several designs that allowed the plates to remain parallel while pressing a sandwich. In fact they were known as "Sandwich Press" or "Sandwich Iron" and the early ones did not have reverseable plates. You had a separate appliance that was a waffle iron and often they were made to match, with identical handles, decorative elements and size. (Have you guessed that I have collected some of these?)

I am at my office and do not have access to my own photos.

Here is an example of one of the vintage sandwich grills which were very popular in the 30s and 40s.

Note: This one is less commong than many you see on ebay because it has the white or "ivory" bakelite handles. Most were black or brown because the white tended to discolor over time. Very rare are the ones with red or green bakelite handles - often these colors turned black after years of use.

Ah, so I didn't imagine this! Thanks for the info.

I remember black handles, & I don't think ours had the waffle feature.

I also remember hot ham & cheese and even hot roast beef sandwiches, perhaps some meat loaf as well. I may even have had grilled Spam sandwiches, there was a spell when I really liked that stuff.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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My concern would be that a 220v appliance adapted for use on 110v circuits might not work properly. Years ago, when Dualit toasters were first introduced to the US, I bought one, and it heated very feebly indeed. I corresponded with the company, and they admitted that they hadn't adapted it completely to the lower voltage but were working on it. I returned the toaster. I believe (but do not know first hand) that the problem was eventually resolved - but early adopters got, er, burned. Anyway, you'd want to make sure that you could return this thing for a refund if it simply didn't get as hot as fast as the 220v version.

Edited by emsny (log)
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  • 8 months later...

I just got a Bella Cucina panini grill as a gift. It is really good looking, but not so good at actually grilling paninis. When I try to close it, it practically shoots the sandwich out. It has a hinge, but it really does not hinge much. I brought it back and they also had a Haier panini grill. I had not heard of this brand, but the grill looked like it would work well--an adjustable thermostat and a good hinge with a little arm with 3 different grooves to hold the hinge in place at various heights.

I am also considering the Cuisinart panini grill and also their Griddler, which is quite a bit more, but opens all the way up and has removable plates.

There are so many choices and many mixed reviews of things that I am getting confused! Any more advice would be great. Thanks.

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. . .

There are so many choices and many mixed reviews of things that I am getting confused!  Any more advice would be great.  Thanks.

All I can say is that I have the Griddler and I can no longer imagine life without it! It gets good and hot so besides panini I can do a small steak, chicken breasts, grilled veggies and then I can swap out the grill plates for the griddle plates and cook bacon quickly, crisply and without much mess and do fried eggs; egg, sausage and cheese muffins; grilled sandwiches - I am still exploring all the possibilities. I have done 11/2 inch thick lamb chops to perfect medium in 5 minutes. Yes, it is more expensive than others but to me it's worth every cent!

It would not work for a large family but we are just two and often I find I am cooking just for myself and it's perfect for a quick meal.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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  • 6 months later...
This thread is suddenly reminding me that, when I was a young teen in the early 1960s, my mom had acquired an alectric sandwich griddle / press - I'm not sure what to call it.  Of course we never said "panini grill" back then.

Instead of being hinged to the base, the top element slid up & down on two vertical rods, so there was no problem grilling extra-thick sandwiches evenly on both sides.

This was clearly a device ahead of its time.  I think it was big enough to do two sandwiches but I'm not certain about that.  I don't remember who made it, but it sure  turned out fine grilled sandwiches!  :biggrin:

Wondering if anyone else remembers anything like this from days of yore?

I don't believe i ever saw this configuration, but your post reminded me of a 'unique' little device that i was forced to inherit from my mother when i went away to college. The name escapes me, and i actually still have it, and it is locked away in a time capsule box in my attic even now. It is a nefarious looking little press that you were supposed to place 'sandwiches' in, and then lock down the clasp on the handle. One was encouraged to be creative with the fillings, and as the sandwich toasted within, it morphed into a little triangular shaped turnover. Quite effective, with the result being that if you used cheese, the filling was rendered akin to molten lava with a tempurature hotter than the Sun. Fourth and even fifth degree burns could be obtained from this little torture device, and one's chin was the usual location.

Come to think of it, i may drag it out and explore some new combinations using high-brow ingredients...

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the link doesn't work for me...boo! i want to see the panini toaster that piqued andisenji's interest. (the link goes to napastyle, but no item shows, even with a search for panini...)

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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the link doesn't work for me...boo! i want to see the panini toaster that piqued andisenji's interest. (the link goes to napastyle, but no item shows, even with a search for panini...)

It was more than a year ago and they no longer carry the item. I'll see if I can find the model.

It was very similar to this one: Professional panini grill

(I have a Russell Hobbs that is no longer sold in the US)

"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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ah...didn't notice that is an old thread, revived. i, too, have been seduced by these, at restaurant supply stores and surfas...so far, i have resisted, but they are gorgeous...do i really want to eat panini every day for the rest of my life in order to justify the purchase? maybe...

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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I don't believe i ever saw this configuration, but your post reminded me of a 'unique' little device that i was forced to inherit from my mother when i went away to college. The name escapes me, and i actually still have it, and it is locked away in a time capsule box in my attic even now. It is a nefarious looking little press that you were supposed to place 'sandwiches' in, and then lock down the clasp on the handle. One was encouraged to be creative with the fillings, and as the sandwich toasted within, it morphed into a little triangular shaped turnover. Quite effective, with the result being that if you used cheese, the filling was rendered akin to molten lava with a tempurature hotter than the Sun. Fourth and even fifth degree burns could be obtained from this little torture device, and one's chin was the usual location.

Come to think of it, i may drag it out and explore some new combinations using high-brow ingredients...

My wife and I have one of these in actual use it to make cornbread! Just fill the lower half with a normal cornbread better close the top in about 5 minutes you have some wonderful corn bread. Not a traditional method but very fast and each piece has a nice outside crust. We also make salmon croquets in it again very fast and you get a nice outside crust.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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  • 1 year later...
Is there such a thing as a panini grill that allows you to set the amount of pressure/weight applied to the top?

I haven't seen any of the electric ones that do this. If you take one of the old cast iron plates that people use to make panini you can manually adjust how much weight you put on top of it. I think that's about the only kind of adjustment you're going to find.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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That's unfortunate.  Maybe its time for me to start tinkering.  I guess what I want is a hydraulic armed press that can have a sensitivity adjustment.

It would be a fun project, but to have it really work yet also have to compensate for the size of the sandwich (and number of sandwiches if making multiples). For a given force a larger sandwich would have less pressure on it. Hate it when physics get involved in cooking! :biggrin:

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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I don't believe i ever saw this configuration, but your post reminded me of a 'unique' little device that i was forced to inherit from my mother when i went away to college. The name escapes me,

<snip>

Come to think of it, i may drag it out and explore some new combinations using high-brow ingredients...

Cour de Suisse,

You must be referring to this: http://www.kitchencollection.com/Temp_Prod...fm?sku=00317204

I believe they made a weak comeback in the late '80s too (I missed the 60's wave), but I've never owned one.

Love to hear what you would stuff in your sandwiches!

-sabine

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Cour de Suisse,

You must be referring to this:  http://www.kitchencollection.com/Temp_Prod...fm?sku=00317204

I believe they made a weak comeback in the late '80s too (I missed the 60's wave), but I've never owned one.

Love to hear what you would stuff in your sandwiches!

-sabine

They are actually making a comeback again. I recently saw an advertisement for a new one made by Cuisinart that has deeper "pockets" in the plates so you can put more filling in the sandwich. They also make a normal depth one and I've seen the same devices made by other manufacturers in the stores.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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We have a Cuisinart GR-4, and I absolutely like it. Makes really nice pressed sandwiches, and I've even had good luck with pancakes using the 2nd set of plates.

The nice thing about the GR-4 is the "floating" top, so it nicely accepts thicker sandwiches, and it can handle more than 1 sandwich at a time.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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They are actually making a comeback again.  I recently saw an advertisement for a new one made by Cuisinart that has deeper "pockets" in the plates so you can put more filling in the sandwich.  They also make a normal depth one and I've seen the same devices made by other manufacturers in the stores.

Yikes! If this isn't a sign of what's wrong with our country -- Cuisinart calls it the "Overstuffed" Sandwich Maker. Given that so many Americans are "overstuffed," it should be a big hit.

-sabine

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  • 1 month later...

Greetings all,

I am wondering if there is any definitive answer out there regarding a professional Pannini Grill that uses good old cast Iron for the heating surfaces, versus newer technology units that use a ceramic heating surface. This unit will be in our home (family of 2). Gut level, it seems that cast iron would give bread surfaces (or anything for that matter) a crispier and more attractive appearance. The negatives I have read, are that cleaning is more work due to carbon build up from foods, and that the cast iron surface Pannini grills take a long time to pre-heat, and that they are not completely even heating. As for the ceramic type of grills, I am told that they heat more evenly, preheat faster, are easier to clean, are lighter in weight, and that they look a little "pretty". I have been leaning big time toward the ceramic route for all of the positives I've read, but if foods don't come out with that crispy caramelized crust, I guess I would be defeating the whole purpose of spending approximately $1,000 for such a grill.

The Sodir brand (by Equipex) sells both cast iron, and "vitro ceramic". Originally I thought my biggest dilemma was to figure out which Sodir style I was going to purchase. After "googling", I'm learning of other brands such as Cadco, and also Sirman.

So first off, let me thank anyone who has read my post---and secondly, if there are any Pannini grill mavens out there regarding the two cooking surfaces I've mentioned, as well as a top notch brand, I would greatly appreciate your input.

Cheers and best wishes,

Jeff

P.S.

I mentioned that we are a small family because this has to do with the size that we will need for such a grill. One positive I've heard about the Sodir Vitro Ceramic Grill, is that steaks, veggies and other foods can be cooked besides Pannini. Sodir's Panini VC model has a 16 inch wide cooking surface and I've already been fantasizing about cooking a butterflied "chicken under a brick" type of meal on this unit. Thoughts?

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