Although I’m now at my in-laws’ house, I wanted to share another Try It Tuesday experience from the road: Chevre-Miel (Goat cheese-honey) Panini. While this was not the first time I’d eaten this delightful sandwich, it was the first time I made it myself. I was staying with my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Bob. When Cathy found out I’d never been to a Trader Joe’s, she thought it would be fun to stop by while we were running errands. In the refrigerated section, we happened to spy a variety of cheeses, and I mentioned a little bakery (boulangerie) in the Place Saint-Pierre in Toulouse, France where I’d regularly stop at to buy a chevre-miel panini for lunch. Motivated by that memory, we decided to pick up a log of chevre and a multi-grain baguette and make our own paninis for lunch.
While my son Vincent ate left-over chicken Parmesan in his high-chair, I sliced the baguette and goat cheese while my Aunt buttered the bread and drizzled the honey. We did have to work together to keep the paninis from sliding out of the panini grill, but in the end we had crunchy bread filled with gooey cheese and honey – so worth it!
Here is the very simple recipe:
1 baguette, sliced into 6-inch sections
1 log of goat cheese (chevre), sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
1-2 Tbsp. honey
Slice the sections of baguette in half length-wise to form a sandwich. Butter the outside of the bread. Place approximately 3 rounds of chevre onto the bottom half of each panini and drizzle with about 1 Tbsp. of honey per sandwich. Top with the other half of the baguette section. Place in panini grill for approximately 4 minutes depending on your desired doneness.
After her first bite of panini, Cathy declared the sandwiches to be fantastic. In fact, I think the word she used was “heavenly.”
Despite its simplicity, I do have some notes to share for this particular recipe. First, yes, the butter really is necessary; don’t use non-stick cooking spray. The butter gives the panini a crisp, golden crust. This is particularly important in the US since most “baguettes,” “French” breads, and “Italian” breads lack the crunchy outer crust that true baguettes have. Along the same lines though, use whatever bread strikes your fancy. Cathy and I really enjoyed the multi-grain bread because it added some flavor and texture.
Also, I upped the amount of honey in the recipe because as the panini is pressed in the grill, a portion of the honey is squeezed out. I personally would have wanted more honey in my sandwich.
Finally, Cathy and I were discussing ways to modify the recipe a bit. Cathy thought adding some arugula would add some nice flavor. I suggested sprinkling some Herbes de Provence on top of the honey. Another, similar option would be to use different kinds of honey. Clover honey has a strong taste, but honey made by bees who take nectar from other plants (oregano for example) would add a nice complexity of flavor. There’s a lot you can do with such a simple, tasty base!