I did it, you guys! I humbly submit my recipe for the Crave! At Work Holiday Recipe Challenge.
As I’ve said before, I’m not much of a cook. So I enlisted the help of the Binge’s celebrity chef, Mr. Tea (he earned the moniker in this instance by needing to buy more tea when we shopped for these ingredients– this guy drinks a LOT of tea).
We talked about tarts and crumbles and curries, but ultimately we decided to make a panini because sandwiches are very much in the style of the Binge. We also knew we could do some riffing with sandwich-making, as it is not as exact a science as, say, baking. Or astrophysics.
Here’s everything you need (minus the olive oil… we got that out later):
-Your favorite panini-appropriate bread (we used “farmhouse” white… we had set out for something a bit fancier/crustier, but this worked out fine).
-Chavrie Basil & Roasted Garlic (goat cheese spread).
-Chicken (we used a pre-made rotisserie chicken from Ralph’s; leftover chicken breast from a previous dinner would also be ideal… I love to repurpose leftovers).
-Comice pears, sliced. (Thanks to Crave!)
-A touch of olive oil.
-And of course, you’ll need a George Foreman grill/panini press/pan on a stove… you get it. Heat.
Several hundred blog posts back, I made up a rule, as I am prone to do: “As a rule, any sandwich containing goat cheese is going to be a special sandwich.”
I’m pretty sure this chicken & pear panini proves that rule. We’re like culinary Mythbusters here.
Sam recalled that a panini place he frequented in college– Andiamo of Amherst, Mass– made several sandwiches with garlic chevre, a garlic/goat cheese mixture. So we hunted it down at the local Ralph’s.
You guys! It really did spread like SILK. Amazing.
Spreading the cheese on each slice of bread was literally my only contribution. Butter knifes are my kind of knife! (Though I WILL slice bagels with sharp knives… Jew skills.) After this, I took pictures. But I know I COULD make this. And if it’s easy enough for me to theoretically make, it’s easy enough for you to literally make.
Mr. Tea took care of the fine slicing and dicing.
It feels important to note that the pears should be ripe. These pears were perfectly soft and juicy. I think we had to use two pears because I kept stealing slices to eat. (Don’t I just sound like the BEST cooking companion? Tons of help.)
But I wasn’t TOO terrible, because the pears DID make it onto the sandwiches.
Oh, I also contributed the cute plates. Purchased several years ago at Target. But of course.
Finally, a bit of olive oil before the grill.
The great thing about this sandwich is that it’s gourmet delicious but it’s quick and easy to make. After long days at our respective workplaces, Mr. Tea and I shopped and cooked this with ease, and each element of the sandwich provided a little snacky nibble as we constructed the paninis.
And in a snap, they were ready to eat!
I think we were surprised by how legit delicious these paninis turned out. The mix of sweet pears and savory chicken was divine. The bread was crisp, the chicken and pears were juicy, and the goat cheese was… it just added that perfect dairy/salty touch that only goat cheese can add. One sandwich was filling enough to feel like a meal, but not heavy enough to trigger a full-on food coma.
This is a perfect quick dinner to make to impress, but I would recommend serving it right away, because it’s best hot. I fear a mush factor if you pack it away for a picnic.
But for a picnic, these same ingredients could make a great salad. If we’d done a night two with the leftovers, I would have whipped together a simple salad with the mixed greens, pears, chicken, a little scoop of the goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. Ah, versatility! (Mr. Tea had custody of the leftovers, as we used his kitchen… I’ll have to ask how he used them.)
It was great to create a meal that felt old-school Binge-worthy, especially given my panini phase. I don’t even know if this challenge will have a winner, but I FEEL like a winner! I think we found a recipe that was perfect for these pears, and it’s easy to make– and to replicate.
So I hope you try it.
Thanks to Crave! for the pears, and for sparking some culinary creativity. And thanks to Sara, for making that happen. And thanks to Mr. Tea, for cooking and putting up with my crazy grocery-store ranting about how my brain can’t recalculate bread and for not causing any knife-related bloodshed.
And please forgive any rambling, because it’s late. (As if I don’t ramble at EVERY hour.)