I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in Northern California with such food-adventurous parents. My brother and I were frequently exposed to new tastes from my mom's kitchen and at numerous restaurants. "California cuisine" provides a bounty of fresh ingredients in clever combination. Some of my very favorite dining experiences happened on trips to the California Bay Area and Wine Country (including the BEST tomato soup ever). This panini recipe is inspired by some of the tastes of California's foodie-happy wine-soaked Sonoma County. Apples, brie, and crusty bread (staple snacks amongst avid wine-tasters) play perfectly off a garlicky chicken salad and caramelized onions. Enjoy this one with a glass of wine (or two).
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, fully cooked, and diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith) sliced thin
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 slices sour dough bread
- about 4 Thsp. soft brie cheese
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp. garlic aioli (or prepared Caesar dressing)
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, separating into individual rings with a wooden spoon. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook until the onions begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are soft and translucent, turn the heat to low and caramelize (20-30 minutes). Once the onions are soft and brown, remove from heat and allow to cool while preparing the rest of the panini.
Set panini press to high. In a small bowl, combine chopped, cooked chicken breast with prepared aioli or Caesar dressing. Toss to coat chicken completely, adding a little extra dressing if it seems dry. Brush one side of each slice of sourdough bread to a little olive oil. Spread equal amounts of the brie cheese on the non-olive oil side of the bread slices then assemble paninis. Top the brie on one slice per sandwich with a little bit of the chicken, a few apple slices, and a sprinkle of the caramelized onions. Top with the second piece of bread, oil side out.