Week 1, Meal 2: Grilled herb chicken panini with apple butter, caramelized onion and gruyere

I went through a phase where all I ate were paninis.

Bacon and egg paninis for breakfast. Turkey and salami paninis for lunch. Media noches for dinner.

So, needless to say (but I’ll say it anyways), I was quite excited to put together this week’s second meal: Grilled herb chicken panini with apple butter, caramelized onion and Gruyere.

Sounds good doesn’t it? IT WAS. And easy too!

Keep going for the recipe (good for two portions) and directions.

The Recipe (Yield: 2 servings)

1 8-10 oz. marinated chicken breast (from day before), butterflied through to create 2 thin cutlets
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
1 sprig thyme, finely chopped
apple butter, reserved from yesterday (link above)
1 1/2 t olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced (use the other half from yesterday)
2 oz. Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
Good quality multigrain bread or Trader Joe’s panini bread, sliced

Start by getting the little stuff out of the way first.

That means onion, herbs and cheese time.

Caramelize 1/2 of an onion (use the leftover half from yesterday if you have it) with 1 1/2 t of olive oil until the onions turn golden brown (at least 10 minutes, maybe 15). If the onion looks like its going to burn, add one T of water to keep everything happy.

Grab 1 sprig of thyme and 1 sprig of rosemary. Chop ’em up real small and keep on the side.

You’ll need 2 oz. of Gruyere cheese. We grated ours for easier usage, because trying to cut the block into portions was a stupid idea.

If you have smaller chicken breasts (4-6 oz.) use one per sandwich. If you have larger chicken breasts (8-10 oz., like I do), butterfly the breast all the way through so you end up with two thinner chicken breast pieces.

Throw the butterflied pieces in a bag or container with the chopped up herbs and a little bit of olive oil so that all sides of the meat are coated in herbs and oil.

Grill the chicken on medium-high heat for about four minutes per side and let rest for 5 minutes while you put together the sandwiches. Before you get ready to assemble, be sure to preheat your panini press or George Foreman Grill. If you don’t have either, check out this post on how to make pressed sandwiches without a press.

Chef Brian’s recipe calls for slices of multigrain bread, but I used a couple of fantastic Picket Lane Bakery ciabatta rolls that I got at the Irvine Farmers Market instead. I’m probably going to make these sandwiches a lot and I think I’m going to try the multigrain bread next time to see if it adds to the overall flavor of the sandwich — I’m pretty sure it will.

Take out the saved apple butter we made yesterday (part of it went into that sweet potato puree) and spread a reasonable amount onto both sides of bread. It’s really just apples, honey and a little olive oil, but it spreads just like butter.

Put one piece of chicken on each bottom piece of bread and split up the onions and cheese between the two sandwiches.

Place the paninis on the press diagonally and clamp down the lid. Let them cook for a few minutes, until the tops of the sandwiches achieve your desired doneness.

I liked the apples and Gruyere together — the nuttiness of the cheese and the slighty sweet, very creamy fruit complemented each other — and butterflying the chicken and serving it as one thin patty instead of cut up slices made for a better constructed sandwich.

Winner winner chicken dinner.

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6 thoughts on “Week 1, Meal 2: Grilled herb chicken panini with apple butter, caramelized onion and gruyere”

  1. yaz – i don’t think i can take this so early in the day… apples & gruyere! good thing i have a 10:30 a.m. photo shoot at lucca. that cheese case doesn’t know what’s coming. good luck on day 3!

  2. I’m so hungry now. I think when most people think of diet food, and probably the reason they so often fail, is that most diet food sucks. This stuff I would eat on diet or not. Although it probably doesn’t hurt having a freakin’ chef creating meals for you. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. CJ: I totally thought that on the first night. Cooking the chicken, kale, sweet potato dish, I realized that a real chef was designing my meals once I started plating and really tasted how everything worked together.

      I feel the same way about this dish. It was just delicious.

      If you end up cooking any of these meals, please let me know how they turned out for you.

  3. Niyaz, this looks amaazing! I love apples and onions together. And it’s seasonal too. If I made this I’d brown some granny smith apples sliced about 1/8-inch thick to go on top. Too tasty!

  4. That looks great! I’ve never had a panini in my life :( I’m deprived so I’ll definitely try this one day! Me and my homemade panini press from your link.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK NIYAZ.

    (I know its only day 3.. but its always nice to have a little motivation right? 😀 )

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