America is the land of great sandwiches, and every state has their staple. Sometimes it even comes down to individual cities. However, while you should always give the original creation of each region’s delicious sandwiches a try if you get the chance, that doesn’t mean you have to always travel there to get that great regional flavor. Furthermore, since you have that great Panini press ready and waiting, you can make it better by making it toasty. However, not all regional sandwiches thrive in a Panini environment. So what amazing regional sandwiches should you be trying in your Panini press?
Pastrami on Rye
As the beloved sandwich, well, one of many beloved sandwiches in New York City, there is nothing that can brighten up your day better than a simple pastrami on rye. Of course, their other favorite sandwich, the Reuben, transfers pretty well to Panini form as well. However, if there is one thing better than warm pastrami slathered in brown mustard, it is encasing it all in a nice, toasty rye shell with your Panini maker. Of course, since Panini presses are only so heroic, you probably can’t stuff this sandwich as full of pastrami as they do in NYC.
Not all regional sandwiches transfer well to Panini form. Imagine a lobster roll from Maine, all that unpleasantly warm lobster and mayo, it is enough to make you shudder. However, Miami’s Cubano sandwich is probably the most worthy of your Panini press because it is basically a Panini to begin with! The Cubano combines roasted pork, ham, salami, pickles, and mustard between two hearty slices of bread. The finishing touch on the sandwich sees it pan fried to get that nice toasty exterior. However, you don’t need to toss it in a pan when you already have a handy Panini press all ready to go.
Traditional Philly cheesesteaks are cooked on a big old flattop grill with a mess of peppers, onions, and mushrooms before melting cheese over it. Sometimes a nice cheese sauce is involved, too. However, cheese sauce and Paninis aren’t really good friends. Usually it just makes the bread a little mushy instead of toasty. While you will still need to cook your meats and veggies up before you put them into your roll, you can use the Panini press to both toast the bread and get your cheese or cheeses of choice all nice and gooey.
The Gerber is a sandwich you might have never heard of unless you’ve had extensive stays in the St. Louis area, but for those who have had it, it is a fast favorite. Traditionally, it is an open faced sandwich, but that doesn’t quite translate to the Panini press. However, when you put it together, it is still just as good. The Gerber is made by giving French bread a hearty slather of garlic butter then topping it with ham and provolone, or more natively, provel cheese. It is usually sprinkled with a little bit of paprika before toasting. However, if you are doing a closed sandwich, raw paprika in the center isn’t going to be as tasty. Our recommendation? Sprinkle the paprika with the garlic butter so it has a chance to warm up first and imbibe its flavor to the sandwich without just getting lost in the cheese.
You probably won’t find this tasty little treat on any restaurant menu, but rest assured that starting in Massachusetts and spreading to many households across the United States, the Fluffernutter is a lunch staple. It is a simple sandwich and really just a new take on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. However, you know what also make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich more awesome? Putting it in a Panini press, and with the Fluffernutter, it becomes more so. As a sandwich made from peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on white bread, when the peanut butter and marshmallow start to heat up, magic starts to happen. After all, what is more magical than melted peanut butter and melted marshmallow? Together, there are no better sandwich bedfellows.
The Vermonter, like its broad name might suggest, has a variety of different incarnations in its home state of Vermont. However, some ingredients different from sandwich slinger to sandwich slinger, most of the time it stays the same. The Vermonter is made up of turkey, ham, sharp cheddar, honey, mustard, and thinly sliced apples. It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s cheesy, and the only thing it is missing is that great crunch from some toasty bread. The nice thing about the Vermonter is you can try it with so many different variations of the same ingredients. Instead of cheddar, you can add brie or goat cheese. Instead of ham, you can get even more powerful salty flavor from prosciutto or even bacon. Of course, if you stray too much, at some point it might stop being a Vermonter, but it will still probably be a damn good Panini regardless.
No one can quite agree which region it comes from, whether it is Memphis or Mississippi, there isn’t much point arguing over the origins of a sandwich that is just dying to be made into a Panini. The peanut butter melts, the bananas get warm and creamy by proxy, and the bacon inside just sets everything off with an awesome salty crunch. While this certainly isn’t a regional Panini that is good for the waist line, it is pretty good for the soul.