Friday, May 27, 2016

The Elvis Panini!

     The King Lives On!
     Elvis Presley had a favorite snack sandwich that is still occasionally served in Las Vegas restaurants.  The Elvis Sandwich has a flavor combination that is difficult for the uninitiated to imagine.  The original Elvis Sandwich was made with peanut butter, bacon, banana and honey on Wonder Bread.  The sandwich was grilled in bacon grease till it turned crispy golden brown.    
     Many people say that honey was added to the Elvis Sandwich recipe sometime after the basic original version was created.  Some people say that Marshmallow Spread was part of the original Elvis Sandwich recipe, but there is no confirmation.  Marshmallow spread?  Peanut butter and marshmallow spread sandwiches used to be a popular item back in the 1960's, so it is possible.  
     In modern times, the ingredients that are used to make the Elvis Sandwich have been recognized as a classic flavor combination.  Las Vegas still honors Elvis to this day and many Vegas chefs have used the Elvis Sandwich ingredients to create many new recipes.  For example, I had Elvis Ice Cream for dessert at the Rio Casino Seafood Buffet a few years ago.  The ice cream was flavored with peanut butter, bananas, honey and bacon.  Needless to say, the Elvis Ice Cream tasted so good that it was practically addictive! 
     Everything and anything is possible with the Elvis Sandwich flavor combination.  This sweet, savory, fruity combination is perfect for anything from truffles to cheesecake.  As far as sandwiches go, the Elvis flavor combination works best with a grilled sandwich.  Since a classic Panini is a grilled sandwich that is made with Ciabatta Bread, the Elvis flavor combination is the perfect choice.       
     Panini sandwiches are made with a sandwich grill press.  The grill surface can be flat or ribbed.  Panini sandwiches are only lightly pressed and not much pressure is applied.  At the opposite extreme, when making a Cuban Sandwich, a lot of pressure is applied so the Cuban Sandwich is pressed as flat as a pancake.  Panini sandwiches are also grilled dry.  In a way, an Elvis Panini is a healthy version of the Elvis Sandwich, because no butter or bacon grease is used to grill the sandwich.  Because Ciabatta Bread is very porous, the honey easily saturates the bread and this adds to the appeal.     
     Elvis Presley liked his grilled sandwiches cut into triangle shapes.  Oddly enough, panini are traditionally cut into triangle shapes too.  I guess that one would say that the panini version is simply a natural progression of the original Elvis Sandwich recipe!  

     The Elvis Panini:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Grill 4 slices of hickory smoked bacon till they are crisp.
     Set the crisp bacon strips aside.
     Step 2:  Pre-heat a Panini Sandwich Grill to medium/medium low heat.
     Step 3:  Cut a 6" to 8" long piece of Italian Ciabatta Bread.
     Cut the bread in half horizontally.
     Step 4:  Spread a generous amount of peanut butter on both halves of the bread.
     Place a layer of thin banana slices on the peanut butter on one of the sandwich halves.
     Pour 2 tablespoons of honey over the banana slices.
     Place the 4 crisp slices of smoked bacon on the honey and bananas.
     Place the top half of the sandwich bread in place.
     Step 5:  Place the sandwich on the hot panini grill and lower the lid.
     Lightly press the sandwich in the panini grill, but do not flatten the sandwich.
     Grill the sandwich till the bread is lightly toasted and the ingredients are warm.
     Step 6:  Place the Elvis Panini on a cutting board and cut it into triangle shapes.
     Place the Elvis Panini triangles on a plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Garnish with pickles of your choice.  (Pickled okra halves and small dill gherkins are a nice choice!)

     The Elvis Panini has a flavor that must be experienced to be believed!  

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