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Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 9-Inch Panini Press
|Price:||CDN$ 145.00 & FREE Shipping. Details|
- Hand washing recommended, oven-safe up to 350 degrees F
- Measures 9 by 9 by 2 inches, limited lifetime warranty
- limited lifetime warranty
- 9 IN
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Cast Iron has long been the preferred material for grills but the lengthy seasoning process and high maintenance was discouraging. Le Creuset's porcelain enameled interior gives you the benefits of cast iron without the seasoning process. The Panini Press is a ribbed cast iron plate that works in conjunction with a skillet grill to produce top and bottom searing simultaneously. You can also create mouth-watering steaks and seafood, plus the Panini Press can be used to expel excess fat for a delicious low-fat dish!
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Top Customer Reviews
Chipped on first use
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Using it: After opening it I read that this is not meant to be used with my type of cook top but I thought I could probably still make it work. And I did. But it took three batches of panini to get the crust I wanted. Too black, too white, just right-- and I don't see how anyone, no matter the cook top, will avoid this process. No little dial to set like on a traditional panini maker for how you want your toasted product to turn out. Second, the instructions say, heat your pan and press on separate burners till hot. Then grease each piece and set the press inside the pan for a minute or so, then do your sandwiches OFF THE HEAT. Okay great. Now say you want to make more than two sandwiches, which is what the pan will hold. No problem for the pan, just put it back on the burner to reheat, but what about the press? It is now greased on the side you put directly in contact with the burner (perhaps more of a problem for electric ranges...). You can carefully wipe it dry (it's still hot) and stick it back on the burner, then grease it again (did that, annoying to deal with, but it worked). You can use the retained heat from the press and pan and get a much more lightly toasted second set of sandwiches (have also done that) and then you pretty much have to start over. With a traditional press you can just keep sliding sandwiches out, sandwiches in. I'm feeding a family of six, so to me this seems like a real selling point for the grills and a real drawback for the press.
After I mastered my pan and press I was all happy till I got to thinking, what would one of these taste like without the grill marks? Some of the traditional presses have two sided plates, one smooth, one ridged. I wanted to try a smooth panini. Luckily I had the wit to realize this would be a simple matter. I got out a plain old frying pan and made a no grill marks panini by simply using slighly thinner bread, and pressing the sandwich down with a spatula as it was cooking, then flipping it halfway through. I liked it better, but that is a matter of opinion. It did get me thinking though: I already have high quality skillets. Did I really just pay $150 for a fancy grilled cheese sandwich pan? Yes, I think I did.
I would say that the most value I got from this purchase is the little booklet that came with it urging you to mix spices in a small dish of olive oil, then to brush your panini bread with this mixture on the outside before making them. It is delicious. Don't think I would have thought of it on my own and my panini cookbook doesn't mention that great little idea, so kudos to Le Crueset for good cooking tips. But you may want to consider (as I wish I had), before dropping your cash: does anyone really need a panini maker? To cook something both sides at a time, thus saving a total of two minutes, and to imprint it with grill marks: is this worth $150 to you? Or $80 or $90 if you go the traditional press route? Before buying this or any panini press I would urge you to get out a heavy duty flat bottom skillet, assemble a panini, place it in the pan over medium heat, press it down with a spatula, and carefully flip it two minutes later. If this is tasty to you, you just saved yourself more than $100 and you are still enjoying a panini.
I hope to use this pan for other things, like burgers, steaks and chicken, to feel I got my money's worth out of it. It is a great pan, nothing wrong with it, thus the four stars. HOWEVER If I really wanted fancy grill marked panini I think I would rather have gone with a traditional press for the convenience of making multiple sandwiches, not using up more than half my stove to make what is supposed to be a quick and simple meal, and adjustable temperature control. Nor would I get one with multisided plates. I would use a frying pan for a "no grill marks" sandwich. Something to think about!
I spray the griddle before I heat and use it, but using the Press is different. It is supposed to be heated separately, then I spray it with Pam or something like that, then put it on the food. This works well the first time. However if you are doing a second batch of chicken or sandwiches, you either have to clean the Press to re-heat it or not use it because if you heat it with the spray and the juices on the Press you will have a mess on your stove top.
Confused? Come to my kitchen and I'll show you.
I like to use the Press with the Griddle because my grilled chicken comes out moist and tender, but I usually repeat the grilling process at least one and sometimes two more times. Is it absolutely necessary to have a Press? No! Fun? Yes! Great conversation in the kitchen with friends and family? Sure!
It's something you can always buy later.