How do you like your sandwich? With chicken, bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato fillings? Or do you fancy a simple peanut butter and jelly snack? Whichever fillings you prefer, one thing is certain a sandwich snack never disappoints. It is delicious, healthy and easy to prepare. You only need two slices of bread, your fillings, and a (breakfast) sandwich maker.
Put the fillings in between the two slices of bread and just load them on the sandwich maker. Five to ten minutes later you will be enjoying a very healthy and delicious snack.
Types of Sandwich Makers
Although this snack has been in existence since 1762, it was not until 1925 that the first sandwich maker was patented by Charles Champion. Since then, people have totally migrated from the stovetop and are now enjoying the luxury of preparing sandwiches using electric appliances. There are two types of appliances that are used to prepare sandwiches: sandwich maker & toaster and Panini press. They are both easy to use and make tasty sandwiches.
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Sandwich Maker & Toaster
A sandwich maker is a very popular kitchen appliance found in most households all over the world. They are very simple to use and are super-efficient when it comes to whipping up a simple sandwich snack. Although their primary function is to make sandwiches, they can also be used to toast bread.
Therefore, you don’t have to invest in a toaster when you have one of these appliances lying around in the kitchen. They are particularly great at making light to medium toasted sandwiches. You can also prepare darker toasts by simply increasing the cooking time.
To prepare a sandwich with a sandwich maker is very simple. First, you need to apply a small amount of butter or olive oil or any vegetable oil on to the plates for the toast to have a nice golden brown hue.
Then, fill the slices of bread with your favorite toppings. The next step is to place the filled slices on the bottom plates and then close the lid. Now all you have to do is wait for it to alert you when the sandwich is ready. All sandwich makers are designed to operate automatically and will not require any input from you, aside from closing the lid and plugging/unplugging the device from the power source.
Most of them have fixed temperature settings, and the type of toast you want will depend entirely on the cook time rather than on the temperature. For instance, a typical sandwich maker will take less than 4 minutes for a light toast and more than 6 minutes for a darker toast.
Unfortunately, due to their small sizes, sandwich makers cannot prepare thick sandwiches. Adding too many fillings may result to spillages, while thick slices of bread may prevent the lid from closing properly. Here are the factors you need to consider when purchasing a simple breakfast sandwich maker.
Power of the Breakfast Sandwich Maker
The wattage of a sandwich maker equates to its power. The higher the wattage, the more powerful the sandwich maker. The main advantage of a powerful sandwich maker is that it heats quickly and prepares sandwiches at a much faster rate than a less powerful unit. A unit with 750 watts or more is considered powerful and highly recommended. To be on the safe side, avoid appliances with lower wattage, that is 700 watts or below.
Number of Slices
Another factor you should look into is the number of slices the breakfast sandwich maker can produce in one instance. Few models make only one sandwich at a time, while the majority of them produce more than two sandwiches at once.
The capacity of sandwich makers depend on the number of heating plates. For instance, a unit with 2 or 4 rectangular heating plates will produce 2 or 4 full sandwiches at a go. On the other hand, a unit with 2 or 4 rectangular heating plates, each divided into two triangular sections will produce 4 or 8 half sandwiches.
Therefore, a unit with the ability to produce eight half sandwiches at once is more convenient for large families. Triangular heating plates are also generally desirable, as they take away the hassle of having to dissect the sandwich into two slices. The size of your family should dictate the size of the sandwich maker you select.
However, it is recommended that you select a unit with more capacity. This is because you can use a large unit to prepare a few sandwiches. You cannot squeeze in more sandwiches in a smaller unit.
Material of Heating Plates
Scrapping and cleaning sticky bits and run down cheese messes can be very tricky. To avoid the inconveniences of dealing with hard to clean surfaces, it is advisable you go for nonstick coating surfaces, such as Teflon and non-toxic ceramic. These surfaces are very easy to clean, as they can be easily wiped with a moist cloth. Metallic plates should be avoided at all cost because sticky messes tend to stick on them, which makes them hard to clean.
Some metals are also prone to leaching, which can distort the taste of the sandwich and also expose you to a lot of health risks. As a precautionary measure, ensure you do not damage the nonstick Teflon surface. This is because exposing the metallic surface could lead to leaching or burnt spots on the sandwich.
Although many brands have thermal insulation features, some models have no insulation in place. It is a good idea to give you a heads up just in case you forget. Breakfast sandwich makers tend to get very hot. You should ensure that there is proper insulation protection around the device to avoid unnecessary accidents.
Also, ensure the handle is constructed from a poor conductor of heat. This is because the handle is the only place that you will come into contact with when the appliance is hot.
Therefore, make sure it is properly insulated, a plastic handle is a great choice. The handle should also have a sturdy latch to keep the sandwich maker tightly closed during the toasting period to avoid accidents.
Some breakfast sandwich makers have removable plates, which makes them easy to clean. Also, they also come with a grill plate and a waffle plate. Therefore, in addition to making sandwiches, these 3-in-one appliances can also prepare waffles, meats, veggies, and even eggs. So, instead of investing in a separate grilling machine, you can purchase a multipurpose sandwich maker to save yourself some money and kitchen space.
The first feature you should consider is an adjustable heat setting. Most sandwich makers come with a fixed heat setting, which takes away your ability to control the type of sandwich you want. With an adjustable heat setting, you will be able to control the color and level of crispiness of your sandwich.
Another feature is a light indicator that will alert you when the appliance is on or off. A light indicator will also signal you when the appliance is preheated and ready for the slices and when the sandwiches are cooked. A timer is also a great feature. It will either alert you or shut off the appliance automatically when the set time elapses.
Otherwise referred to as sandwich presses, these appliances are small weighted grills with the ability to make sandwiches. The greatest feature of Panini presses is versatility.
They can be used to grill any type of food from meat and fish to fruits and vegetables. They also produce the best sandwiches. While normal sandwich makers have limits when it comes to the thickness of a sandwich, Panini grills have adjustable top plates, which allow them to accommodate very thick sandwiches with all types of ingredients.
Also, Panini presses can work comfortably with thicker bread, such as Italian made focaccia and ciabatta. Another signature feature of these appliances is toasted bread with grill lines, which makes their sandwiches even more appetizing.
Making sandwiches with these appliances is also very simple. Fill your slices of bread with as many ingredients as you desire. Load the filled slices on the bottom plate and slide the top plate to the height of the sandwich. Wait for a few minutes before serving. Panini presses are very convenient, as they take away the need to own a sandwich maker and an outdoor grill.
Types of Panini Presses
Based on their sizes, Panini sandwich presses can be classified into two: medium duty and heavy duty Panini grills. Medium duty Panini presses are medium sized grills that are perfect for cafes and small sandwich shops with not-so-high traffic.
They can also work well in households. On the other hand, heavy duty Panini grills are designed to handle the rigorous use of a large restaurant. They have heavy sturdy bodies and are also very durable. Here are factors you need to consider when purchasing a Panini grill.
Panini grills are constructed from three materials: aluminum, cast iron, and nonstick Teflon. Each material has its strengths and weaknesses. While aluminum plates are cheap and good heat conductors, they lose heat quickly and also require the use of sprays and oils to keep the food from sticking on the plates.
Cast iron provides even heating and is a great conductor of heat. On the flipside, cast iron requires seasoning to prevent food from sticking and also takes longer to preheat. We would recommend nonstick plates as they heat up quickly, use little to no sprays and oils, and are very easy to clean.
These appliances come with three plate patterns, smooth, grooved and a combination of both. Smooth plates cook the sandwich evenly, and there are no grill lines on the toasted bread. Grooved plates work as efficient as smooth plates, but they also include grill lines on the sandwich, which makes it even more appealing.
There is a catch to this- the grilled plates should be stick-resistant to prevent the food from sticking in the grates. If you prefer an appliance with different plate configurations, then you can either go for a grilled top and smooth bottom or a smooth top with a grilled bottom.
Single or Dual Grill
The choice to either go for a single or dual grill will depend on your grilling needs and the counter space in your kitchen. Generally, single Panini presses are smaller and will take up less counter space. However, they offer limited options when it comes to cooking.
Dual presses take up more space, but they are more versatile as you can cook simultaneously on both plates. Dual Panini presses are more convenient in larger families with more cooking needs, while single Panini presses are ideal for households with single members.
It should be noted however that a single grill does not equate to a small appliance. Some Panini presses with single plates are actually large. You should look at the size of the grill surface to determine which one suits you best. With a large grilling surface, you will be able to prepare several sandwiches at the same time.
This will save you a lot of time and inconveniences, especially when preparing a large batch of sandwiches for guests. A press with a small grilling surface may be cheap, but it can only prepare one or two sandwiches at a time.
Though it is highly unlikely that you will get a Panini press without a floating hinge, the most important thing is to ensure that the floating top plate is adjustable to various heights. This will give you a wider range of options when it comes to preparing sandwiches.
The top plate should also be self-leveling to reduce instances of uneven cooking. Some brands come with a torsion spring hinge, while others have an auto-balancing feature. Whichever hinge you select, just make sure that the top plate sticks to the place you want it to.
Adjustable Temperature Setting
All types of food have different temperature requirements. Therefore, an adjustable thermostat control allows you to prepare various types of food on the Panini press. Fortunately, most of the Panini presses have an adjustable thermostat setting. A good temperature range should be low enough to just warm tortillas (100?F) and high enough to allow seasoning and cleaning of cast iron plates (more than 400 F).
Cleaning plates can be very tricky, especially when you are dealing with grooved plates and the messes just ooze into the hard to reach grates. Removable plates are very handy, as they will make cleaning easier without exposing the electrical components to water.
You should also consider whether the plates are dishwasher safe or not. Always go for a unit with dishwasher safe plates to save yourself the hassle of having to scrub grilling plates.
A timer is essential when you have a lot to do, and you have no time to monitor the grilling press. With a timer, you will only be required to set the cooking time, and the Panini press will automatically turn off when that time elapses, or it may alert you. A timer will allow you to continue with other businesses, without a feeling of uneasiness that the sandwich may get burned.
Choosing to buy a breakfast sandwich maker or a Panini press will depend on your budget and sandwich needs. Panini presses are more costly on average than normal sandwich makers. However, Panini presses are more convenient as they can be used as grilling machines and sandwich makers.
Sandwich makers are also effective in their own right, even though in a limited way. If you want to experiment with a wide range of ingredients, then a Panini grill is the right appliance for you. If a simple sandwich is what you aspire to enjoy each morning, then a normal sandwich maker is not a bad choice. Good luck.
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