Fried Green Tomato and Pancetta Panini
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 8 oz. pancetta, thickly sliced, cooked until crispy
and fat reserved
- 8 slices country-style bread, each 1/2 inch thick
- 6 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese
- 1 cup baby arugula
Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper. Dredge the tomatoes in flour and dip them into the eggs, letting the excess drip off. Then dredge the tomatoes in the cornmeal mixture. Place on a plate.
In a deep sauté pan over medium heat, warm the 1/4 cup olive oil and 3 Tbs. pancetta fat until almost smoking. Working in batches, fry the tomatoes, turning once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side, adding more pancetta fat to the pan as needed. Transfer the tomatoes to a paper towel-lined plate.
Preheat an electric panini press according to the manufacturers instructions.
Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. Lay the slices, oiled side down, on a work surface. Place the cheese on half of the slices, dividing evenly. Top with the pancetta, 2 or 3 tomato slices and one of the other bread slices, oiled side up.
Place the sandwiches on the panini press and cook according to the manufacturers instructions until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board. Place 1/4 cup arugula inside each sandwich and cut in half. Serve immediately. Serves 4.