Smoked Chicken and Mozzarella Panini
In this recipe, a handheld smoking gun infuses both the chicken and the mozzarella cheese with rich smoky flavor and aroma.
- 1 lb. focaccia, halved horizontally and cut crosswise into 6 pieces
- Olive oil for brushing
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 8 oz., halved horizontally and pounded 1/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup prepared pesto
- 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
Preheat a panini maker on the “sear” setting according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Brush the outside of the bread slices with olive oil. Lay the slices, cut side up, on a work surface; set aside.
Brush the chicken on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place 3 of the chicken pieces on the preheated panini maker, close the lid and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Wipe the panini maker with paper towels.
Place the chicken in a large sealable plastic bag. Fill the chamber of a handheld smoking gun with hickory chips and smoke the chicken according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Repeat the smoking with another chamber of chips. Seal the bag and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Place the cheese slices in a single layer in another large sealable plastic bag. Fill the chamber of the smoking gun with apple wood chips and smoke the cheese for 1 to 2 minutes. Seal the bag and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and pesto.
Preheat the panini maker on the “panini” setting or medium-high heat. Spread 1 Tbs. of the mayonnaise-pesto mixture on the cut side of each bread slice. Place 1 piece of chicken on the bottom half of each slice and top with the tomatoes and cheese, dividing evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Cover each sandwich with a top half of the bread, oiled side up.
Place 3 of the sandwiches on the panini maker, close the lid and cook until the bread is crisp and the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut in half. Repeat to cook the remaining sandwiches. Serve immediately. Serves 6.