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"Everybody loves sandwich night," says Rach, and who wouldn't when her sandwiches are on the menu! She created these pressed beauties—filled with spiced chicken, fennel, peppers, onions and fontina—at her home in Italy for her and John to eat during the flight back to the States. Rach likes to serve them with drained hot giardiniera (pickled vegetables), on the side and fancy chips. And they are even better eaten in front of a movie when you're not 30,000 feet in the air! 

For more panini inspiration, check out Rachael's Florentine Turkey Melts and Bobby Flay's Cuban Beef Sandwiches.


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenders removed
  • 1 ¼ pound chunk fontina Val d'Aosta or other easy melting cheese, like provolone
For the Spice Sprinkle:
  • 2 teaspoons each: salt, pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion and fennel seeds or fennel pollen
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepperoncini or red pepper flakes
  • Non-aerosol cooking spray
  • 6 round or oval flat panini rolls or ciabatta rolls, split OR three 12-14-inch sub rolls, halved then split OR plain focaccia, cut into large rectangles and split
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and very thinly sliced or mandolin cut
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet green or red frying peppers, cubanelle or red field peppers, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock


Serves: 4 to 6


Place chicken in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, then, using a very sharp knife, horizontally thinly slice each breast into 5 to 6 cutlets.   

Thinly slice the cheese or shred on large-tooth grater.

Combine spice sprinkle.

Rachael Ray 12.5-Inch Nonstick Frying Pan

Rachael Ray 12.5-Inch Nonstick Frying Pan

Rachael Ray

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, spray with oil and cook chicken in single layer in batches. As you add the thin slices to the pan, sprinkle with spice, cook a minute or 2, then flip and season the other side; remove to a tray. When all the chicken is cooked, add more oil and the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and soften and toss 4 to 5 minutes. Add stock and let it fully absorb, further softening the vegetables.  

Preheat a panini press to 390°F or heat a cast-iron skillet over medium to medium-high. 

Build sandwiches: bread, chicken, vegetables, cheese, bread. 

Press sandwiches to melt cheese and toast bread crust.