While working for Twentieth Century Fox I spent 2 years in New Orleans. Went from 169 to 189 lbs, learn to suck-dat-head pinch-dat-tail (crawfish) learn that “y’all” is singular just like “you guys” is in the Northeast and most especially how to slow down and enjoy. Here is a New Orleans original – the Muffaletta – is a deliciously melodious collaboration of cured meat, provolone cheese, olive salad and sesame seeded, white fluffy bread that is the sandwich’s namesake. Thank Sicily for the round sesame bread but the ingenious sandwich is a New Orleans invention. In 1906, Central Grocery, right in the French Quarter, developed the sandwich and has been the muffaletta headquarters ever since. This is where Lyn and I discovered it on one of our Sunday morning ritual to the French Quarter for chicory coffee and beignets, the Sunday paper and a trip to the Zoo with a picnic lunch. We tried one for our picnic and it was soon added to the ritual. People stood in line on a daily basis for the sandwich, as well as the in-house made olive salad (a pickled concoction of olive, celery, carrot, cauliflower, olive oil and Italian spices). I wonder if it is still there. Make this New Orleans original sandwich at home with Chef Emeril’s recipe. It’s a great game day sandwich.
- 5 ounces pimento-stuffed olives (1 cup), sliced, plus 2 tablespoons of liquid from the jar
- 6 ounces chopped giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables) (1 cup), plus 1 tablespoon of liquid from the jar
- 2 tablespoons drained capers, plus 2 teaspoons of liquid from the jar
- 3 ounces pitted Calamata olives (1/2 cup), sliced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Pinch of dried thyme
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large loaf seeded Italian bread (about 1 1/4 pounds), split width wise – halfway between top and bottom
- 1/4 pound sliced fresh mozzarella
- 6 ounces sliced capocollo or prosciutto
- 1/4 pound sliced Genoa salami
- 1/4 pound sliced mortadella
- 1/4 pound sliced mild provolone cheese
- Pepperoncini, for serving
In a medium bowl, stir the pimento-stuffed olives with the giardiniera, capers and their respective liquids. Add the Calamata olives, garlic, shallot, oregano, parsley, thyme and crushed red pepper. Stir in the olive oil and let the mixture stand for 1 hour.
Open the Italian bread on a work surface. Spoon the olive salad on both sides of the bread and spread evenly. Arrange the mozzarella slices on the bottom half of the bread, then top with the capocollo, Genoa salami and mortadella. Arrange the provolone cheese on the top half of the bread, covering the olive salad completely.