Turn smoked turkey and cheddar into an inspired lunch

  • This undated photo provided by America's Test Kitchen in October 2018 shows smoked turkey panini with simple cranberry sauce in Brookline, Mass. This recipe appears in the cookbook "Just Add Sauce." (Steve Klise/America's Test Kitchen via AP)

Panini, sandwiches traditionally cooked in a ridged press, are hard to get wrong, but also surprisingly hard to get just right.

To turn a crowd-pleasing combination of smoked turkey and melty cheddar cheese into an inspired lunch, we needed a condiment with some big personality. To that end, we turned to our Simple Cranberry Sauce, spreading it onto both slices of bread for maximum tart, fruity impact. For a fresh finishing touch, we added some baby arugula.

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Smoked Turkey Panini with Simple Cranberry Sauce

Servings: 4

Start to finish: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices rustic white bread

1/4 cup Simple Cranberry Sauce (recipe below)

8 ounces thinly sliced cheddar cheese

8 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey

2 ounces (2 cups) baby arugula

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Brush oil evenly over 1 side of each slice of bread. Flip bread over and spread cranberry sauce evenly over each second side. Assemble 4 sandwiches by layering ingredients as follows between prepared bread (with cranberry sauce inside sandwich): half of cheddar, turkey, arugula, and remaining cheddar.

Heat 12-inch nonstick grill pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 1 minute. Place 2 sandwiches in pan, set Dutch oven on top, and cook until bread is golden and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer sandwiches to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches. Serve.

Cranberry Sauce

Cooked fruit sauces combine fruit and a careful selection of complementary ingredients; they pair perfectly with a range of savory foods, bringing sweetness and brightness to salty, creamy, or intensely umami-rich dishes.

For our classic cranberry sauce, we found simplest was best: After testing different sweeteners and cooking liquids, we found that white sugar and water let the natural flavor of the fresh cranberries shine. We cooked the sauce just long enough to thicken it and break down some of the berries, but not so long that we lost all the cranberries’ signature “pop.”

Makes about 2 1/4 cups

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

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1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries

Bring sugar, water, and salt to boil in medium saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Stir in cranberries and return to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until slightly thickened and about two-thirds of berries have popped open, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. (Cranberry sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; bring to room temperature before serving.)