Recipe: Panino Rustico

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Adapted from “Angeli Caffe: Pizza, Pasta Panini” by Evan Kleiman

Makes 4 sandwiches

Who likes stringy overcooked dry chicken breast? No one. That’s why I poach the chicken in this recipe. You want the breasts to cook in the gentle liquid heat so the proteins don’t seize up and tighten too much. Use a sturdy bread for this sandwich. There are lots of juices, and they end up becoming their own condiment as they soak into the bread, but you want the sandwich to hold together.

2 large boneless chicken breasts or four small
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon raisins (optional) plumped in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained
Bread or Rolls of your choice
Dijon mustard
Arugula for topping the chicken salad

Place the chicken breasts in a pan that allows them to sit in one layer with enough cold water to cover by 2 generous inches. Salt the water. Bring the water to a low boil, turn the chicken breasts over, cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Let the chicken breasts sit in the hot water for five to 10 minutes, depending on how small they are. Smaller breasts will take less time to reach 150° on an instant read thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, take one breast out of the pan, cover it back up and make a small incision at the thickest point to check doneness. When they are cooked remove from the pan and let them cool until you can shred them.  They will continue cooking as they cool.

Shred the chicken into a bowl. Taste for salt. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Using a microplane zest half the lemon directly into the bowl with the chicken. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the chicken. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, toasted pine nuts and raisins if using. Toss to mix well. Let the chicken salad sit for at least 30 minutes to permit flavors to enter the chicken.

Using the bread or roll of your choice, slather with a bit of Dijon mustard, then pile on the marinated chicken. Garnish with arugula. Enjoy.