That being said, part of the appeal of receiving that free sample of Ile de France cheese was the opportunity to enter a recipe contest using the cheese. And as much as I love soft-ripened cheeses exactly as they are, I really go ga-ga for them when they’re given a bit of heat and turn into molten, decadently-creamy bliss. And I also think that this particular application of the cheese is perfectly suited to sandwiches, particularly pressed sandwiches, where the heat melts the cheese and helps it act as a binder for all the other fillings. So, upon receiving and tasting my wheel of camembert, I just knew that it needed to go in a panini.
I’ll admit, this maybe isn’t the most original sandwich recipe in the world, but it IS sinfully delicious. Crispy-outside/tender-inside ciabatta rolls are spread with a lemon garlic aioli, then topped with fresh, vibrant spring mix, crunchy and pungent red onions, herb-rubbed turkey cutlets, slices of camembert, and finally, sweet apples. In the absence of a panini-press or, perhaps, a George Foreman grill (my favorite and most-missed kitchen appliance from my two years living with three friends in Queens), the sandwiches got wrapped in tin-foil and pressed beneath foil-wrapped bricks that had been heating in the oven for almost an hour.
The final product is a significantly flatter, crispy, crunchy sandwich just oozing with ooey, gooey, melty cheese, acting as the glue between the turkey, apples, and roughage. Biting into this sandwich is like getting a little taste of early fall, warm and comforting with the aromatic flavors of autumn produce and herbs. This is one we’ll be making again, for sure.
Pressed Turkey Panini with Camembert and Apples
Its fairly easy to get thin-cut turkey cutlets in most grocery-stores nowadays – we’re partial to Shady Brook Farms, ourselves, and buy them often. This time, we bought a whole boneless breast from Iavarone and sliced off four cutlets ourselves, pounding them to an even thickness before cooking. Whatever method you use, just be sure you have enough turkey (one cutler or two) to create a single even layer on the sandwich.
Also note that we aren’t going for overstuffed, here – the key to this sandwich is even distribution of fillings and the proper balance of flavors, and a huge sandwich will never press correctly.
I’m writing this recipe using our hot-brick method, but if you happen to own a panini press or George Foreman grill, you can use that however you normally would.
4 thin turkey cutlets
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 tsp black pepper
zest of one lemon
2 fresh ciabatta rolls
1 cup spring mix salad greens or arugula
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1 small sweet apple, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (we used a Macoun but any sweet or semi-sweet variety would do)
4 oz Ile de France Camembert, cut into 1/4 inch slices (trim the rind if you like)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Wrap two bricks in foil and place in the center of the oven and allow to heat for 45 minutes to an hour.
For the turkey:
Sandwich the turkey cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound then gently with a meat mallet to flatten and tenderize them – you want them slightly less than 1/4 inch thick. If your cutlets are already very thin, you can skip this step.
Season the cutlets with the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large skillet until a drop of water flung into the pan pops and sizzles. Carefully add the turkey and sear on each side for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the aioli:
Stir together the mayo, garlic, lemon zest and pepper.
To assemble the sandwiches:
Split the ciabatta rolls and pull out some of the bread from the center – this will make more room for the fillings and keep them from being squeezed out during the pressing step.
Slather the tops of the rolls with the aioli. Stack the fillings on the bottom half of the roll, starting with the salad greens, followed by the red onions, then the turkey cutlets, the cheese slices, and the apples. Divide your fillings evenly between the two sandwiches, and don’t try to use all of them if you don’t have room. Remember, less is more here.
Using hot pads/oven mitts, carefully remove the now VERY hot bricks from the oven. Again carefully, place one brick on top of each sandwich, pressing down to be sure they will be stable. Place the entire baking sheet back in the oven to give the sandwiches a chance to heat through – 5 minutes or so should do it.
Remove from the oven and remove the bricks. Unwrap the sandwiches enough to expose the tops of the rolls, then replace the bricks or a few minutes to crisp up the crust. No need to put them back in the oven for this – the sandwiches will be plenty warm and the bricks will have retained enough heat to do the job.
This is my entry for the Ile de France recipe contest. If you like this recipe, please visit the Ile de France blog and vote for me between October 16 and November 3!