It seems right now that "Buffalo Chicken" anything is all the rage. I love a good bandwagon, so I'll jump right on! In all seriousness though, how could anything that starts with 'buffalo chicken' be anything but delicious?? Buffalo Chicken Dip is household favorite here, so I decided to start experimenting with other ways I could 'buffalize" (new word! I coined it!) some of my favorite meals. Panini's were a simple way to start. Chewy, crusty bread smothered with ranch dressing, melty cheese and spicy chicken...I think I can rest my case here.
Now, when it comes to panini's most people think they need a fancy machine to make one...wrong! Go ahead and dust off that George Foreman grill (no really, mine had actual dust on it) and it will work just fine. If you don't have a panini press or a Foreman grill, not to panic, all hope is still not lost. You can either cook the panini in a frying pan, grilled cheese style, and use something heavy like another pan to press down on the panini as it cooks. Or you can just put the sandwich on a baking sheet in a 350 oven for about 8-10 mins and everything will get melty and crispy just the same.
This recipe calls for about a cup of cooked chicken, which you can acquire a number of ways. Here is one of those opportunities when a store bought rotisserie chicken comes in handy in a big way. That is one of my absolute favorite time saving tricks! Just shred it up and you're ready to go. You can also use fully cooked store bought chicken strips, or you could even (gasp!) cook the chicken yourself!
Buffalo Chicken Panini
1C cooked, shredded or chopped chicken
1/2C hot sauce (I like Frank's!)
4T ranch dressing (or blue cheese if you prefer)
1/2C shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
Crusty bread (You'll need a sturdy bread for these...foccacia, ciabatta, sourdough... any of those would work fine. I used a sourdough loaf)
1. Start by cutting your bread into 4 slices. Using your fingers, scoop out some of the bread from the middle, creating little "pockets" for the fillings.
2. Spread 1T of ranch on each slice of bread.
3. Next, heat 1/2C of hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat.
4. Add chicken and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
5. Divide 1/4C of cheese between each sandwich and top with chicken.
6. Assemble sandwich together and place on a hot George Foreman grill or panini press (or use directions above for oven/skillet) for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bread has nice, golden lines.