We decided the first sandwich made on my magnificent panini press should be a pesto chicken panini. There's a sandwich shop down the street from my office that makes a fantastic version of this sandwich, which was my inspiration. Before we get into the how, check out my press.
My ma-in-law did an awesome job picking out my press. This baby is easy to clean AND easy to use. The shot above shows the panini plates. If you pop these out and turn them over, there is a flat griddle side to them that would make it easy to grill chicken or make pancakes. There's a lever you push that also allows you to lay the top down so it's converted into a longer griddle - perfect for pancakes and bacon in the morning. They also sell additional plates so you can make Belgian waffles, which I can't wait to try.
Now for what you need to make this fantastic sandwich.
Substantial bread (it needs to hold up with some pressing!)
Mozzarella Cheese (1.5 pieces per sandwich)
Salt & Pepper
Start by cooking your chicken breast. Since the point is to flatten and grill your sandwich, it will work best if your breast is pretty thin. You can flatten your chicken breast by placing it between two pieces of wax paper. Starting in the center, pound gently with a flat mallet until chicken is even in thickness. I seasoned mine with salt, pepper and onion powder and then cooked it in a frying pan with a little olive oil.
Once the chicken breast is cooked through, it's time to assemble your sandwich!
Once your panini press has preheated, place the sandwich(s) on the gridddle and close the lid. Press down on the handle for 30 seconds and then let cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and has those nice grill marks. Make sure to only touch the handle - I learned the hard way that the top can get pretty hot! :)
I wish I could get a second panini press and keep it at work - this really is the only way to eat a sandwich. :)