Up in my grill
The panini is the worst thing to happen to the sandwich since the invention of fat-free mayonnaise. Too often it’s a way to disguise a lousy sandwich on cheap bread by adding a couple of grill lines. The fillings are still lousy, the cheese barely melted, and the bread tastes flat and stale. A squished, lukewarm sandwich. Ugh.
There are plenty of fine ways to make a hot sandwich. After Thanksgiving every year, I make hot turkey sandwiches by warming leftover turkey and gravy together and pouring the result over toast. I’ll eat this for lunch every day until the gravy runs out (and sometimes for breakfast, especially if there’s a bit of stuffing too.) I’m also a fan of the oven-toasted sandwich, I don’t even care who does it. I wouldn’t be writing this column if hot sandwiches weren’t the best sandwiches and the panini weren’t just a dry, tepid loogie on the face of hot sandwiches everywhere.
But there’s another option, one that really makes the panini suffer by comparison, and that’s the grilled sandwich. The dry, compressed panini is really just a pale imitation of the rich, buttery, glorious, tuna melt, or grilled cheese. Or even better, and as I’ve found, a bit more unusual, my personal favorite, the grilled peanut butter sandwich.
The only other person I’ve ever heard of who ate grilled peanut butter sandwiches regularly was Elvis Presley, and he liked to load his sandwiches down with bananas and maybe bacon. I hate bananas, so I’m going to stick with the basics. This is a really simple recipe, so I’m not going to bother with amounts. (In fact, I wouldn’t bother with the recipe at all if I didn’t always get such uncomprehending looks when I try to tell people about what seems like it should be a self-explanatory sandwich.)
Spread peanut butter (preferably crunchy) between two slices of bread, butter one side of the sandwich and place on a hot griddle. Carefully butter the unbuttered side of the sandwich. Grill until the bottom is golden (3-5 minutes), then flip and grill the other side (maybe 2 minutes). Serve immediately.
If I’m trying to recreate my childhood, I’ll cut the sandwich into fingers, but just about any presentation will do (or none at all — bachelors feel free to consume immediately over the stove). And give up on the panini. Seriously.
Gavin Craig is co-editor of The Idler. You can follow him on Twitter at @craiggav.