Copycat Panera Frontega Chicken Panini is very simple to make at home. Fresh, smokey, cheesy, and crunchy, it’s full of mouthwatering flavor!
Happy Monday, turkeys! Hope you had a nice, long Thanksgiving weekend.
We kicked off Thanksgiving morning with Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread at my parent’s house. I had planned on making Shortcut Caramel Cinnamon Rolls, but didn’t have frozen bread dough on hand. I did, however, have frozen bread rolls so I cut each one into quarters then rolled in butter and then a mixture of brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. After rising in a bundt pan for 30 minutes and baking for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, I drizzled cream cheese frosting all over the top. DECADENT!
Devoured with sparkly mimosas while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I sat down just as my favorite act was dancing by – The Rockettes. Because nothing says Thanksgiving like sequins and high kicks!
Since it was just Ben, Lincoln, and me, Lincoln got lots of quality Grandparent time.
Ben and I took full advantage. Naps, naps, naps!
Oh my gosh, I was going through my old room while we were over and found this picture of my high school cheerleading squad circa 1998. Guess who #99 is in the background? BEN! Bahahaha, I about died when he pointed it out. We’ve known each other since Kindergarten but didn’t start dating until our senior year in college. The rest is history!
The turkey was done around noon and my Mom carved him on up. What a beauty. The turkey was pretty too. ; )
It was weird seeing the table with only 4 settings. I can’t remember a Thanksgiving without at least one of my siblings home!
More turkey for us, I suppose. ; ) (No we did not feed Lincoln turkey. Next year, though, it’s on!)
‘Twas a classic feast.
The aforementioned turkey alongside mashed potatoes and gravy.
Green beans and bacon, and Party Potatoes Deluxe – my favorite.
Not to be outdone by Sweet Potato Stuffed Apples with slightly charred marshmallows on top, and Grandma’s Holiday Salad, of which I had approximately 400 scoops. Even if you think you don’t like creamy dishes, I beg you to try this one. It will blow your mind!
Lincoln made it through the entire meal before passing out from a food coma – we all soon followed.
The combo of a warm fire, pumpkin pie, and football was too cozy to resist. Can’t believe another Thanksgiving is in the books!
The rest of the weekend was blissfully un-busy. My Mom and I went to Home Depot then Target around 10am on Friday to snag some deals, and were pleasantly surprised to see zero lines. Later that night I got to spend time with friends, then Saturday Ben and I had date night. Yesterday we all reconvened at my parent’s house for family lunch. It was good to finally get everyone together!
Friday afternoon, while out shopping, my Mom and I stopped by Panera for a quick lunch. I had my usual You Pick Two combo but instead of soup and the standard Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich, I swapped it for a Frontega Chicken Panini on a whim. Umm, new go-to!
Chewy focaccia bread is stuffed with pulled chicken, mozzarella cheese, tomato, red onion, fresh basil, and chipotle mayo then pressed until hot and crisp. So simple, so delish – I just had to share the homemade version with you. After a big cooking holiday like Thanksgiving, I think we’re all looking for a quick and easy meal to make, yes?
Start by making the chipotle mayo. Normally I’m a mayo hater, but this jazzed up version is really good in this sandwich. If you simply can’t go there, use Ranch dressing instead.
Mix together 1/4 cup low-fat mayo with 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce + 1 or 2 teaspoons sauce, depending on how strong you want it. I used a mini food processor, but you could chop the chipotle pepper real fine then stir it into the mayonnaise.
I explained to my mini sous chef that chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are just smoked jalapeno peppers packed in a smokey sauce. You can find them by the canned enchilada sauce/canned green chilies, etc. They’re not really spicy, rather, very smokey.
How many more times can I say the word smoked or smokey in one paragraph?!
Chipotles in adobo freeze really well so don’t fret about not using the entire can. Just pop the remainder in a freezer bag then freeze and snap off a pepper or some of the sauce whenever you need it.
Next shred 2 cooked chicken breasts. I seasoned mine with garlic salt and pepper, sauteed until no longer pink, and then shredded. Leftover rotisserie chicken or even turkey from Thanksgiving would be great, if you’ve still got it!
Next, slice up the fresh ingredients – 1 tomato, 1 small red onion, an 8oz mozzarella cheese ball, and 10-12 fresh basil leaves.
Tine for zee bread! Panera uses fresh focaccia, but I found these focaccia buns at my grocery store which I thought would be perfect. If you can’t find the buns just use a loaf, or even ciabatta bread/buns would be good. Oh also, I would not get the garlic flavored one like I did. The garlic flecks on top got a teensy bit burnt in the panini press.
Slather the top and bottom with some of the chipotle mayo then layer on a quarter of the cooked/shredded chicken and thin slices of fresh tomato and red onion. Normally I don’t love raw red onion in my deli sandwiches, but the zing it gives this sandwich is great.
Next layer on mozzarella cheese slices and about 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped basil. Pop the lid on top then press in a panini maker, or cook on the stove, grilled cheese-style. I used my Griddler which I just love!
Five minutes later, presto – Frontega Chicken Panini!
Copycat Panera Frontega Chicken Panini
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce + 1 or 2 teaspoons sauce
4 focaccia buns (or 1 loaf focaccia bread, cut into quarters)
2 chicken breasts (12-14oz total,) cooked then shredded
8oz mozzarella ball, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 small red onion, sliced
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray
- Add mayonnaise, chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce to a mini food processor bowl then process until smooth. Alternatively, chop pepper up very fine then stir with sauce into mayonnaise.
- Spread chipotle mayo onto tops and bottoms of buns then layer on shredded chicken, tomato, red onion, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Press in panini press over medium-high heat until cheese is melted and bread is crisp. Serve immediately.
Fresh, fast, and easy. What more could you want? Hope you enjoy this delectable sandwich!