Sunday, May 19

Chicken, Mushroom and Gruyère Grilled Sandwiches

Many years ago as we were traveling through  France the language barrier, for once, actually worked in my favor. As I was ordering a ham and gruyère  sandwich, our young waiter asked me several questions that I did NOT understand. Mr.P, in his infinite wisdom, pulled out his Berlitz guide and attempted to translate for me. The waiter smiled kindly, shook his head in 'understanding' and retreated to the kitchen. Mr.P was grins from ear to ear and I was dully impressed with my husband's - however limited but helpful - knowledge of the French language and the patience of this gracious waiter. As Mr.P and I sat back enjoying our café au laits and the scene around us, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves and I'm sure the waiter was having a good laugh with the cook. When our lunch arrived Mr.P's steak frites looked divine and what I thought would be a simple ham and gruyère sandwich turned out to be a divine looking grilled sandwich with the added ingredients of arugula and juicy peaches. I look from the sandwich to the waiter and back again and as Mr.P began trying to 'fix' the situation, I just held up my hand and smiled to our waiter...I figured it was better to leave my sandwich as is and try something new. It quickly became clear this was one of the best misunderstandings I had ever had with a Frenchman on the subject of food. This golden and crunchy sandwich of warm ham, melted gruyère, arugula and juicy peaches was unexpectedly wonderful. As peach juice began to run down my chin in delightful embarrassment, I realized this was, at that time, the best food experience I had ever had. Up to that point the only 'grilled' sandwich I had ever eaten was a simple grilled cheese sandwich. I had accidentally discovered paninis and there was no looking back. When we returned home, I looked for a panini press but was having difficulty getting past the sticker shock. In desperation for an alternative, I pulled out my tried and true George Foreman grill and it was magic! I was on the road to making my own original panina. I found the recipe below back in the 90's and it soon became a Porter favorite. I hope you enjoy it as well....but make it your own. Add your favorite ingredients, there are no mistakes here and even if there were.......who's to know??

This sandwich is best done as leftovers, as it would be a heck of a lot of prep work and cooking just to make a grilled sandwich. My recommendation is to do the whole deal: roast the chicken for dinner the night before, then use the leftovers for the sandwich the next day.

Chicken, Mushroom and Gruyère Grilled Sandwiches

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 6 fresh cremini or white button mushrooms,
     brushed clean and thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 4 slices firm-textured sandwich bread
  • 5 oz. sliced roasted chicken, about 1 cup
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise

  • In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they give off their juices and the liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • Sprinkle half of the cheese on 2 slices of the bread. Top with equal amounts of the chicken, the mushrooms and the remaining cheese. Top each with one of the remaining bread slices. Press each sandwich gently. Spread 1 Tbs. of the mayonnaise over the tops of the sandwiches.
  • Wipe out the fry pan with paper towels. Heat the pan over medium-high heat until hot. Place the sandwiches, mayonnaise side down, in the pan. Spread the remaining mayonnaise on the tops of the sandwiches. Cook, turning once, until both sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. I use my GF grill! Serve hot. 
  • Serves 2.
Variation Tips: Here are other great combinations for your grilled chicken sandwich. Thinly sliced apples with sharp cheddar cheese on whole-wheat bread; provolone cheese, fresh basil leaves and olive paste on thinly sliced Italian bread; sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh oregano leaves on semolina bread and of course the tried and true gruyère, arugula and fresh peaches on country bread.


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