When we were discussing potential entries for Regional Recipes, I don't know why we didn't think of this sandwich before last week. It just totally escaped our minds. And to think that the muffuletta would be a more appropriate entry, given that was really an American invention, invented by a Sicilian immigrant in New Orleans.
If we hadn't looked through the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook that was not put back in its proper place on the shelf (it was instead left on the table), we would have missed an opportunity to make this muffuletta sandwich.
Messiness has its rewards. (I'm all about silver linings.)
I first heard of muffuletta in 2002, while I was doing some research for a trip to New Orleans. Of course, being the tourist that I was, when the guidebook said that Central Grocery created the original muffuletta, then by golly, I went there to have one.
A muffuletta is a huge sandwich made with round muffuletta bread, stuffed with salami, mortadella, capicola, provolone and emmenthal cheeses, and an "olive salad" that ties the whole thing together.
I remember CSC and I, all wide-eyed and not into sandwiches nor olives, taking a bite out of the muffuletta and loving it instantly.
That food memory had been filed away for a while, as there seemed to be no way to find a muffuletta in Vancouver. (There was a time when White Spot featured what they called a "muffuletta sandwich", but just by looking at the imposter in the TV ads, we knew that it wasn't even close to a real muffuletta.)
About a year ago, while flipping though our then newly-acquired America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, I saw a muffuletta recipe! CSC and I were so excited and knew we had to try it. That first time I made muffuletta, JS, for some reason, insisted that HALF the amount of olive salad was enough for the sandwich. Why she would insist on such a thing is beyond me. Of course, half the amount was not enough! I had to quickly make more.
Now, we know better. No skimping on the olive salad allowed.
This olive salad tries my patience. Not because it's difficult to make, though all that pitting is certainly tedious gruntwork, but because one has to wait until the next day before it's ready.
First, there's all that pitting. The recipe called for both green and black olives. We used kalamata, queens and Calabrese (according to the package) olives.
Then it's a matter of mixing together the pitted green and black olives with roasted bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, parsley, dried oregano, lemon juice and olive oil.
One has to wait until the next day, and finally, the olive salad is ready to use. I could bathe in this olive salad goodness!
The Rest of it
The recipe only called for mortadella and salami, as far as the meats were concerned. I completely forgot about the capicola until reading the Wikipedia description of muffuletta. We will have to include that in the future.
The bread, meats and cheeses.
First, I drained the olive salad and reserved its liquid. Each half of the bread -- we used a round Italian loaf -- had its interior crumb removed. The reserved liquid was brushed onto each half of the bread.
Some olive salad was spread on the bottom. Then, next came the layers of provolone, genoa salami, and mortadella. The whole thing was finished with another layer of the olive salad.
Each muffuletta was wrapped in plastic wrap and weighed down. They had to hang out like that for at least 30 minutes.
You'd better believe I made two of these bad boys!
The first time we made muffuletta, I felt there was just too much meat and cheese involved. TS simply followed the recipe amount indicated for the meat and cheeses, forgetting that we are not big deli meat and cheese eaters. The amount of meat and cheese was too much for the olive salad and the bread.
This time, I felt the amount of meat and cheese was just right, striking a good balance between protein, vegetable, and bread. The muffuletta was delicious: I love, love the tangy, briny olive salad and I kept wishing there was more of the olive salad.
Not having tried the muffuletta in New Orleans, I have no idea what bread it was made with. TS keeps saying that the bread was "not the same, not the same". Maybe the bread we had was a tad dry, but that could be a function of when the bread was made and not the kind of bread.
The muffuletta was fantastic, of course. But, the bread! [sigh] I don't know if we can find the same bread here. Perhaps next time we'll use the wonderful gigantormous 15" foccacia from the same bakery (Calabria Bakery), or the more modest 7" size.
Ooh, I'm imagining all the drool-inducing deliciousness of the filling, especially the olive salad, with the fragrant herby aroma of their foccacia. Yes, I will use their foccacia.
Would this go well with our Canadian Onion Soup?
Muffuletta with spooky background, as only a Vancouver setting can give you. (Just look at the X-Files... of course, before they moved to shoot the series in Los Angeles.)
Here's another spin on the muffuletta:
Stuffed "Muffuletta" Flank Steak
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from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
6 to 8 servings
1 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (1/2 cup)
4 ounces oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup minced parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large (9-inch) round Italian or French bread
8 ounces sliced mortadella
8 ounces sliced provolone
8 ounces sliced hard salami
(We didn't use the full amount of each meat and cheese.)
Mix, cover and refrigerate (8 to 24 hours).
Drain olive salad. Reserve the drained oil.
Cut bread horizontally and remove interior crumb (until bread walls measure 1/2 inch). Brush top and bottom of bread with reserved oil from olive salad.
Spread half of olive salad on the bottom. Layer the sliced meats and cheese. Top with remaining olive salad. Cover with bread top. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place wrapped muffuletta between two plates and weigh down with a couple of heavy cans. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Unwrap, cut into wedges and serve.
We're submitting this to Regional Recipes, a blogging event created by Blazing Hot Wok that celebrates food from all over the world.
The region for this edition is North America. The round-up will be hosted by us! Entries are due on April 15. Please submit them to email [at] eatingclubvancouver [dot] com.
Regional Recipes information
Our Regional Recipes posts:
Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)
Simmered Saba Mackerel with Daikon Radish (Saba Oroshi-ni)
Thai Fried Chicken
Roast Pork Belly with Puy Lentils
Beef "Ribbon" Kebab (Pasanda Kabab) with Cilantro Chutney
Canadian Onion Soup with Oka Cheese
Börek with Beef Filling
Korean Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul, Kong Namul)
Lobster Congee from a Lobster Feast
Pork Jowl (Pork Cheeks) with Brown Sugar Rub
Cuban Arroz con Salchichas (Yellow Rice with Vienna Sausages)
Cuban Pastelitos de Guayaba y Queso (Guava and Cheese Pastries)
Vietnamese Spring Roll (Cha Gio)
Grilled Fish Fillet on Oregano
Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)