New Orleans Muffuletta

 

      A muhf-fuh-LEHT-tuh] is a Hero-style sandwich which is a specialty of New Orleans.  It originated in 1906 at the Central Grocery, which many think (me included) still makes the best muffuletta in Louisiana. The sandwich consists of a round loaf of crusty Italian bread, split and filled with layers of sliced provolone, Genoa salami and ham topped with a garlicky olive salad.  The sandwich can be made several hours ahead, and refrigerated loosely covered with parchment paper.

     This recipe is very close to the sandwich served at the Central Grocery in New Orleans (I stood in line 2 hours last November just to taste the real thing; it was well worth it!).  To make sure your sandwich is authentic:  the muffuletta bread must be baked the day of serving, it cannot be wrapped in plastic wrap as it will soften the sandwich, and the sandwich must be eaten the day it is made (which shouldn’t be a problem because it is so good!).

 

 8  Servings

 

 

                Olive Salad

1 1/3  cup green olives with pimento, coarsely chopped

1/4    cup pimento, chopped

2        cloves garlic, minced

1        teaspoon anchovy paste

2        tablespoons capers

1/3    cup fresh parsley, chopped

1        tablespoon fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried

1/4    teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2    cup olive oil

         

1        Round Muffaletta Loaf (recipe follows)

1/4    pound sliced salami

1/4    pound sliced ham

1/4    pound provolone cheese, sliced

      

     Mix all of the olive salad ingredients and let sit at least 2 hours.

     Cut the loaf of bread in half horizontally.   Brush some of the olive salad juice on the bottom and add a small layer of the olive salad.  Top with salami, ham, and cheese.  Pile as much of the remaining olive salad as possible on top of the meat and cheese, spread some of the olive salad juice on the top, and place the top of the loaf over.  Press down well.  Wrap loosely in parchment and refrigerate until ready to serve.   Cut into 8 wedges to serve.

 

Muffaletta Loaves

 

1 1/4  cups water

1        tablespoon sugar

1 1/2  teaspoons salt

2        tablespoons shortening

3        cups flour

1        tablespoon dry yeast

         

1        egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1        cup sesame seeds

      

 

     Place all ingredients except egg white mixture and sesame seeds in the bread machine.  Set the machine to the dough setting.  When the dough is done, dump the dough on a lightly floured pastry cloth, cut in half, and form two loaves, about 8” in diameter.  Transfer the loaves to parchment-covered baking sheets, brush with the egg white mixture, and press sesame seeds into the loaves until they are well covered.  Cover loosely; allow to rise until doubled in bulk. 

     Preheat the oven to 425°.  Spray the buns liberally with water and immediately place in the preheated oven (this makes a very crisp crust).  Bake until the loaves are golden brown and crisp.  They should feel hollow when tapped.  Cool thoroughly without covering.