The Unconventional Ways Alton Brown Uses A Panini Press

Cooking meals for the family can be time-consuming and require many cleanups. Fortunately, Alton Brown's way of preparing meals includes one appliance and fewer messes. The famous chef recommends using a panini press in ways you may have never considered.

Recipe Tips explains that a panini press contains upper and lower grill plates. These cast aluminum or cast iron plates press and cook food in one easy step. A panini grill press produces a crispy, golden crust on bread and other foods, and it's the perfect kitchen appliance for making melty, cheesy sandwiches and quesadillas. Heavier grill plates provide more weight than lighter plates, resulting in more compression on the food as it cooks, thus a quicker cook time.

But what if you could use your panini press to make various foods for one whole meal? Brown shows us how he uses a panini press in unconventional ways to make cooking more convenient. 

Grill breakfast with a panini press

A panini press can be used to make more foods than just sandwiches, and Brown shares how to do that in his Food Network YouTube video. The famous chef says you can cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a panini press. The first clever cooking tip he provides is to cook bacon for two minutes, remove it, and leave the bacon grease on the grill. Place a handful of raw spinach leaves onto the press, pour a few raw eggs on top, and close the grill. Cook for one minute, and enjoy the spinach omelet with your bacon.

Taste of Home also has a recipe for a breakfast bistro panini. The pressed sandwich consists of eggs, bacon, apple, and brie on sourdough bread. The site recommends cooking the sandwich filling on the stovetop, constructing the sandwich, and laying it on the grill for a nice, hot press. The breakfast sandwich takes a quick three to four minutes to grill.

Whip up a light lunch with a panini press

For lunch, Brown spreads pizza dough on the grill and brushes it with olive oil. Then, he adds toppings such as herbs and veggies, closes the lid, and after a few minutes, he has pizza! Pizza toppings may include peppers, onion, or olives. Don't sprinkle cheese on the top because it will melt and cause a gooey mess. Instead, add the cheese after the dough and toppings are grilled, or place cheese between two pieces of pizza dough or bread, panini-style (via DVO).

Want a healthier lunch option? Williams Food Equipment lists fish as a delicious choice for cooking on a panini grill. The site recommends rubbing the fish in oil, sprinkling it with seasoning, and placing the fish on the grill on a high heat setting. Livestrong recommends rubbing the fish in a dry herb that pairs well with the type of fish you're cooking. They say the herbs form a crispy coating over the fish when it is grilled. Yum!

Prepare dinner and dessert on a panini press

Brown completes his video by cooking dinner and dessert on the panini grill. He preps and grills a cornish game hen for about 12 minutes, removes it, and leaves the chicken fat on the press. Next, he grills fresh asparagus to accompany the chicken.

The chef's Panini Press Dinner recipe on Food Network is another delicious meal option. For this recipe, he recommends cooking bacon slices on the press. When the bacon is done, remove the grease and cook red onion, mushroom, and spinach on the grill. Crumble the bacon into a bowl, add the veggies, and drizzle with hot sauce. Voila, dinner is served!

After dinner, clean the panini press and prepare to whip up a quick dessert. To complete the meal, Brown grills fresh peach slices and recommends using these to top pie or ice cream. If this has officially convinced you to buy a panini grill, the "Good Eats" chef says to look for a large grill surface, heavy-duty metal construction, and a floating lid.