Roast Beef Panini Horseradish Aioli & Steak Sauce   Recipe
Roast Beef Panini Horseradish Aioli & Steak Sauce

By Wolfgang Puck

You can put just about anything you want in panini and use any kind of bread. The recipe I share here calls for sections of the long, slender French bread loaves called baguettes; but you could substitute squares of focaccia, the Italian flatbread; individual Italian sandwich rolls; or any good-quality sliced loaf.

The filling features thinly sliced roast beef from the deli counter. If you like, use your own leftover roast beef instead, or substitute sliced ham, salami, or chicken.

Two other elements are key to good panini. I like some sort of condiment or thick sauce inside to keep the filling moist. In this version, there's a simply made seasoned mayonnaise to add a little bite to the beef. I also include a separate sauce served alongside the sandwiches for dipping: an easily made barbecue sauce, for which you can substitute your favorite bottled brand if time is tight.

Finally, there's the matter of cooking the panini. The simplest way is to use an Italian-style countertop electric panini press, which crisps the bread, warms up the filling, and gently but firmly presses and seals the sandwich; these appliances are now widely sold at reasonable prices. You could also use one of the hinged double-sided electric countertop grills that are so popular nowadays. If you don't have either appliance, you can cook the sandwiches on both sides on the stovetop in a heavy nonstick skillet or griddle, pressing them down lightly but firmly from time to time with a spatula to help seal them and turn them crusty without flattening them too much.

Play around with the recipe whenever you need a change of pace. And who knows? Some day soon, you might even feel like trying it with turkey!

Roast Beef Panini Horseradish Aioli & Homemade Steak Sauce Recipe

Serves 4

Recipe Ingredients

2 French-style baguette loaves, each at least 14 inches long

1/2 cup store-bought mayonnaise

2 tablespoons bottled prepared horseradish

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 slices Cheddar cheese, 6 to 8 ounces total weight

1-1/2 pounds thinly sliced roast beef

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Recipe Preparation

Homemade Steak Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat an electric panini press or hinged double-sided electric contact grill.

With a bread knife, cut each baguette into 2 pieces 7 inches long, trimming off the pointy ends of the loaves. With the bread knife, split each piece in half lengthwise.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, horseradish, and garlic. Spread the cut sides of each piece of bread with the mayonnaise mixture.

On the bottom half of each sandwich, place a slice of Cheddar. Arrange the roast beef evenly on top, then top the beef with another slice of cheese. Neatly place the top bread half on each sandwich.

Brush the hot top and bottom cooking surfaces of the panini press with olive oil. Working in batches if necessary, place the sandwiches in the panini press and cook until the cheese has melted and the bread is a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Using tongs or a spatula, transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and, with the bread knife, cut them diagonally in halves. Transfer to serving plates and pass some of the steak sauce alongside for each person to spread inside the sandwich or dip into bite by bite.

Homemade Steak Sauce Recipe

Makes about 3 cups (750 ml)

3 cups tomato ketchup

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup seedless raisins

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons molasses

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 small fresh organic hot chili peppers, halved, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and minced

2 sprigs fresh oregano, or 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, stirring frequently with a wire whisk. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the flavors have blended and the sauce is thick, 30 to 45 minutes, whisking frequently to prevent the sauce from scorching on the bottom of the pan.

Remove the pan from the heat. Place a fine-meshed wire strainer over a bowl and pour the sauce into the strainer, pressing it through with a rubber spatula. Serve hot; or let the sauce cool to room temperature and then store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days, serving it cold or gently reheated.


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