This is my new favorite way to use leftover grilled chicken breast. Of course, it is good enough to make a fresh batch for, too! The flavor combo going on here is amazing. If you’re like me and love the taste of sweet and savory together, this will be sure to please your palate. I generally think of panini and other sandwiches as a lunch food, but I had this for dinner last night, and I was very happy. This recipe makes 1 sandwich. Double, triple, quadruple as needed. 😉
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced
- 1 (6-inch) piece of french bread, sliced open
- 2-3 Tbsp fig preserves
- 2 slices gouda cheese
- a sprinkle of parsley flakes
- a handful of baby spinach leaves
- Spread the fig preserves on the bottom slice of bread.
- Place the sliced chicken on top of the figs, sprinkle with parsley, place the spinach, and top with cheese.
- Put the top slice of bread in place, and press in a panini press for 3-5 minutes or until the bread is browned and the cheese is melted. (See instructions below if you don’t own a press.)
If you don’t own a panini or sandwich press, you can make this several other ways. If you have a couple of cast iron skillets, you can heat them both, place the sandwich in one, place the other hot skillet right on top, and press down. If you have a flat, electric griddle, you can use that as well. Heat the griddle, and use a flat pot lid to press the sandwich, using constant pressure or placing something heavy on top. You’ll have to flip the sandwich over to heat the other side if you use this method. You can also broil the sandwich open-faced in the oven. I would leave the spinach off until the end if you choose to do it this way because the broiler could burn the leaves. Your sandwich won’t be pressed if you broil it of course, but you can either eat it as is or you can press it down firmly between a pot lid and a plate while it’s still hot. No matter which of these methods you have to use, the flavors are still there, and it will still be a very satisfying sandwich.
I am fortunate enough to be friends with someone who makes homemade, whole fig preserves. They are out-of-this-world fantastic. If you aren’t as fortunate, you should be able to find some in the jelly section at the grocery store. If all else fails, order some on Amazon. I checked, and they have them (they have everything!). When they are in season, you can even use fresh figs, which I definitely plan on doing. (The season is generally June to August.) It’s good to have an “in” with someone who has their own fig tree, or at least search for a good farmer’s market with a vendor who carries them. They are difficult to harvest and ship in large quantities due to their fragility, so they may be difficult to find in larger grocery chains. Figs don’t ripen once they’re picked, so they have to be picked at the peak of ripeness. Of course, this makes them more vulnerable to damage. Can you tell that I have a fondness for these sweet little mounds of awesome?
Normally panini are made with focaccia, ciabatta, or sourdough. You can use whatever bread you prefer, but I had French loaf on hand. French bread is already crusty on the outside and soft in the middle, so it worked well. You can always switch up the cheese, too. Brie (YUM), Provolone, Havarti, or fresh Mozzarella are all great options. Go for a softer, milder cheese. Experiment with it, and please come back and tell us what combination of bread and cheese is your favorite.