Friday, February 4, 2011

A New Orleans Sandwich with Sicilian Roots

Super Bowl Snacks, Part 3

Fig.1. Olive salad on the bottom, followed by meat, cheese, more meat, more cheese, and more olive salad. It all fits because the interior of the bread is hollowed out.

A muffuletta is a sandwich steeped with tradition in New Orleans. Claimed to have originated in 1906 at the longstanding, Italian grocery store, Central Grocery. A muffuletta is basically a sandwich of cured meat, cheese and pickled vegetables and olives. (A mixture referred to in New Orleans as olive salad.) The Sicilian connection to this sandwich, however, rests not with its ingredients, but with the word muffiletta. The linguistic book, Introduzione allo studio del dialetto Sicilaino, has the word muffiletta defined as, pan buffetto, or aerated bread.
Muffiletta bread, as it's still referred to today by many Sicilians, (including my barber, Nino) is crusty and hard on the outside and soft in the middle, and usually braided; a bread that's meant to be ripped apart. This inability on the bread's part to be turned into a sandwich prompted Muffuletta creator, Salvatore Lupo--himself a Sicilian immigrant--to find a bread suitable enough to hold vast amounts of cured meats, cheese and pickled giardiniera. Lupo settled on what is now referred to as a muffuletta loaf: a soft, round, almost focaccia style bread.

Makes 1 sandwich

Fig.2. That's a mighty big "sandweech" you got there.

This is just my version of a New Orleans' muffuletta style sandwich. It can also be made with a larger, round "pagnotta" style bread, just add more ingredients. This sandwich is big, messy and requires napkins. Prepare "the muff" one hour before kick off and let it rest in the fridge. Eat it over a plate to catch all the bits that can't fit into your mouth.


For the olive salad

1/2 cup marinated eggplant (mild or spicy, your choice)
1/2 cup pickled vegetables, chopped
1/2 pitted olives, chopped (again, your choice, just make sure they're good quality brine cured olives)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the sandwich

1 soft, round Italian style or sourdough bun
5 slices salami, sliced thin
5 slices capicolo, sliced thin
4 slices ham or prosciutto cotto, sliced thin
4 slices of provolone, sliced thin


For the olive salad: combine all of the ingredients and mix. Cover and refrigerate olive mixture for four hours or overnight.
When you're ready to assemble the sandwich, cut bread in half and remove some of the interior part of the bread. Spread the bottom bread with 1/3 of the olive salad, and the top bread with the rest. Add your sliced meat and cheese, wrap the muffuletta tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour.

Fig.3. Make sure you chop the olive and pickled vegetables. I'm using the Spanish Crespo anchovy stuffed olives here, but feel free to use whatever pitted olives you like. Garlic is a must. Read the recipe and don't just look at the picture like some of you have been doing.

Fig.4. Begin layering.

Fig.5. Press the sandwich, wrap tightly and refrigerate for one hour.

No comments: