Italian Party Panini | Grilling

Joshua Bousel

Fire it up! It's almost Fourth of July and what better way to celebrate our nation's independence than a big fire and lots of meat. In the spirit of American excess, I have just the over-the-top thing to both dazzle your guests' eyes and tastebuds—a gigantic Italian party panini.

I got the idea from Chris Hart and Andy Husband's great Wicked Good Barbecue, where the photos of this giant sandwich almost trump the beautiful pork butts and briskets in the preceding pages. You don't really need a recipe to put together an Italian sub—most combos of cured meats are going to taste great—but the recipe in the book seemed so spot on that I followed it almost exactly.*

The sub goes like this: layers of mortadella, Genoa salami, provolone, and hot capicola that are topped with marinated veggies, pepperoncinis, roasted red peppers, and lettuce. The whole affair is then put over a medium-low fire and topped with bricks to compress it down into a warm panini.

This was seriously one the greatest things that came off my grill in a while. Even though my sturdy bread didn't press down as much as I had hoped, the grill created it a great crusty crunch that gave way to a sea of outstanding meats, a sharp and slightly melted provolone, and veggies that added a nice tang, crunch, and a little heat. This was a near masterpiece of a panini and so impressive in size and scope to my guests, it should be a no brainer for your holiday cookout.

*I ended up using half as much meat and cheese because the full recipe made the sub a little too tall and hard to manage. If you want the full-on, super meaty experience, double the meat and cheese in this recipe.