If I am watching TV you can be sure I am watching the Food Network. Last week I noticed that three different celebrity chefs referenced the muffuletta, a famous New Orleans Sandwich. I admittingly watch a ton of their programs but this particular occurrence seemed strange. It isn't Mardi Gras or any other New Orleans related holiday so for three Chefs on three different shows to talk about the muffuletta was more than a coincidence. Rachel Ray made a muffuletta salad, Emeril made a classic muffuletta and Mario Batali mentioned it in a discussion on famous Italian sandwiches. I quickly decided it must be a sign. A sign for what? I didn't know, but I was going to use it as motivation to research a recipe and recreate the classic at home. Now back home I could get a Large "Muff" (around 10 inches in diameter) for about $8 and feed four people. Well Northern Virginia isn't "back home" so it cost me quite a bit more to get all the ingredients for the recipe (side note - gas isn't $4.05/gallon back home either). Despite the cost, I had to forge forward since the Food Network's hidden/or not so hidden message had told me to do it ;-)
Growing up in New Orleans, the muffuletta was something we ate quite often. We didn't get ours from the originators (Central Grocery) though. We ate our muffulettas from Ben's and they were amazing. Ben's set the standard very high and I had alot to live up to with my William Sonoma recipe. I knew I was taking a chance by making a traditional New Orleans dish based off of a non-New Orleans source, but I have had the sandwich enough to know that they were using all the right ingredients. This recipe was spot on! The sandwiches turned out delicious and very authentic tasting.
Recipe courtesy William Sonoma
1 1/2 cups queen pimiento-stuffed olives
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 cup Italian gardinera (pickled cauliflower,
carrots, red pepper and celery)
1/4 cup pickled pepperoncini
1/4 cup capers, drained (I omitted from the recipe)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup olive oil
Directions:Place the queen and Kalamata olives, the gardinera, pepperoncini and capers on a cutting board. (I used the mini food processor to make it easier). Roughly chop the ingredients, cutting each piece 2 or 3 times. The mixture should be very coarse. Transfer to a bowl and add the garlic, parsley, oregano and olive oil. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Serves 4.
New Orleans Muffuletta
Recipe courtesy William Sonoma
4 Kaiser or other round, seeded rolls, each 4
inches in diameter, split
1 cup olive salad
3 oz. thinly sliced cooked ham
3 oz. thinly sliced Genoa salami
4 oz. thinly sliced mortadella
4 slices provolone cheese
Directions:Lay the roll halves, cut sides up, on a work surface. Brush the cut sides with oil from the olive salad. On the bottom half of each roll, spread 2 Tbs. to 1/4 cup olive salad. Place the ham, salami, mortadella and cheese on top, dividing evenly. Cover each sandwich with the top half of a roll. Cook the sandwiches immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
Preheat an electric panini press on medium-low according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Place the sandwiches, one at a time, on the preheated panini press. Cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until the sandwich is warmed through and the cheese is melted, 6 to 8 minutes.
Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut each into quarters. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 8.