The Chef has resisted getting frozen panini sandwiches from the cold case at 99c only Stores. I could resist no more after working on a recent commercial shoot with an on-set chef, who wielded her portable sandwich grill to make this hearty everyday Italian dish. Now having something to compare, the Chef picked up a frozen Stouffer's Corner Bistro Grilled Chicken Italian and a Lean Cuisine Southwest-Style Chicken Panini (again Stoffer's) from this 99c only Store. Needless to say, microwaved frozen sandwiches do not compare. Bread and a microwave do not go together; it loses that crispy crust that you get from grilling and turns to a spongy texture.
Time for the Panini Throwdown. The most difficult part of this taste test was removing the panini from its tough plastic casing - make sure to have a pair of scissors on hand. As for toppings, both of these frozen paninis have a good amount of cheese and chicken, however, Corner Bistro uses a tastier provolone cheese while Lean Cuisine's panini is topped with a mild, dull Monterey Jack. Both have a good amount of chicken, sauteed onion and bell pepper.
After a two and a half minute zapping, the panini comes out nice and hot with gooey melted cheese. Be careful -- the cheese holds heat a little too well. Both brands are made with plain tasting white bread; although each is described as being sourdough or Italian, this Chef could not tell the difference. So while Lean Cuisine has half the fat, it has half the flavor of Corner Bistro panini. If you look at this as a simple, quick, inexpensive lunch, both do fine; however this being a thowdown, the Chef gives the victory to Stouffer's Corner Bistro Panini!