Miniature Meatball Panini
These mini meatball sandwiches can be prepared in advance; simply bake, cool, and freeze them in airtight plastic bags. To serve, thaw and reheat in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes. From the book "Lucinda's Rustic Italian Kitchen," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Wiley).
- 1 loaf thin-sliced white bread, such as Pepperidge Farm
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground pork, or a combination of beef and pork
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a food processor or blender, process the ends of the loaf of bread to fine breadcrumbs, about 1/2 cup. Set the remaining bread aside.
In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, meat, egg, cheeses, parsley, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands to combine well.
Roll the meat mixture into 1-inch balls and reserve on a baking sheet. Lay 2 slices of bread on work surface. Butter one side of each piece. Place 4 meatballs on the buttered surface of the slice of bread. Top with a second slice of bread, buttered side down, and press firmly to adhere. Use a serrated knife to cut the crusts from the bread. Bake the crusts separately for a "chef's treat." Repeat with the remaining meatballs and bread. This process can be done assembly-line style, lining up slices of buttered bread and assembling a number at a time. Prepare 2 baking sheets at a time if possible.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat, if necessary, until all sandwiches are cooked. Remove from the pan and cool. Serve slightly warm.