Tom Colicchio Talks Paninis with Rachael Ray



Top Chef judge Chef Tom Colicchio was on Rachael Ray promoting season 4, giving some hints on how to host a Panini Party and promoting his collaboration with Sara Lee.

Colicchio discussed how he learned to cook, from good ole’ mom of course.  At a very young age he used to fish, go clamming and help prepare and make dinner.

In just one day, season 4 of Top Chef premiers and all the judges have hit the airwaves to promote the show along with their own projects.  Colicchio has partnered with Sara Lee as an “award-winning chef, TV personality and sandwich lover” to produce a variety of recipes for their line of lunch meats and cheeses.  Sara Lee’s site The Joy of Eating has a variety of recipes for the perfect sandwich made by Tom Colicchio:

Roasted Pork & Jalapeno Panini


  • 1 ciabatta roll
  • 4 slices Sara Lee Oven Roasted Pork Roast
  • 3 strips crispy bacon
  • 2 slices Sara Lee Monterey Jack cheese & Jalapeno Cheese
  • ½ apple, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar pecan mustard


Slice roll in half. Spread mustard on both slices. On bottom half, place pork and top with bacon, cheese, and apple. Close sandwich with other half of roll. Heat your panini maker or sandwich press. Butter each side of the press. Place the sandwich inside, press down, and grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is flat and browned, approximately 10 minutes.

Tom suggests that you put any sauce or wet product in the center of the sandwich when you make the panini.  This is because it you spread the sauce directly onto the bread, when you press it, the sauce will bleed through the bread and make it mushy.  Here are more Tom Panini Tips:

If you don’t have a little fancy panini machine, you don’t have to worry. You can actually make them in a cast iron skillet and just use a smaller one to weigh them down. If you don’t have cast iron, you could still do it in a stainless steel pan and use something heavy to weigh the sandwich down.”"One thing about paninis is that they shouldn’t be overstuffed. Typically, if you put too much in there, it starts to steam and you want paninis to be really crispy.

Read or watch more with Rachael and Tom and don’t forget the Top Chef Season 4 premier is only 1 day away, March 12 at 10pm EST only on Bravo.

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    • jessica

      i don’t watch RR that often, but i caught it yesterday, and the segment was pretty good. i really was glad to learn to put the condiments in the middle. That never ocurred to me! Tom seemed pretty lethargic, though. It looked like he hated his life for talking about apple slices and cheddar paninis on a show whose major demographic is middle-aged housewives. (No offense to that demographic: i’ll be there in about 15 years.)

    • PaniniKathy

      I’m bummed I missed this episode (like Jessica, I don’t watch too often either). Thanks a lot for the tip about putting the wet ingredients in the middle, that’s an excellent idea!

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    • Whiskey

      Paninis at home are almost always so much better – I don’t make them often but don’t get them out much either. too many places grease them up toooo much. Same deal with the tip to keep mushy ingredients in the middle. I hate soggy paninis.

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