Muffuletta Madness

Best Muffuletta

Ok, not exactly madness. I just made one. A half really.

I journeyed through New Orleans only once before. It was for a couple days on a road trip down to Mexico back in 2007. Not getting a Muffuletta sandwich in that day or two when I was there is one of my all time greatest sandwich-related regrets. I did have an oyster po’boy, and a hurricane from one of those slurpee machines, but it’s pretty safe to say that without this iconic sandwich, it was a completely failed visit. 

So what is a Muffuletta? 

It’s a round Sicilian loaf of bread with sesame seeds on top. At least that is what it was until 1906 when the Muffuletta Sandwich was invented at the Central Grocery (which is still open) on Decatur St. in New Orleans. They cut the loaf horizontally and filled it with a marinated olive salad, Salami, Ham, Mortadella, with Provolone and Mozzarella.

The real stuff at Central Grocery

How could I have missed it? A giant loafwhich cut into quarters with 3 different italian cold cuts, cheese, and not a single condiment aside from olive salad? What was I thinking? That’s pretty much a Sandwichdad’s dream. 

I actually still have never had the magic muffuletta, though long has it plagued my dreams. 

That is, until today…..

I’d venture to say that that 2007 sandwich-single guy may have had a hard time with it. That guy had not yet lost his fear of olives. He was somewhere in just-hearing-about-tapenade phase of young-adulthood.  

Side note, that young man overcame his dislike of olives by working a graveyard shift at a hotel in Tofino a year later, and forcing himself to absentmindedly snack on them while watching episodes of “Curb your Enthusiasm”. True and boring anecdote! 

Anyway, after 13 years, and a month and a half in pandemic related isolation, and realizing that I write a blog about sandwiches, it was really about damn time to make this Muffuletta happen. 

My Muffuletta stuff

Authenticity be damned, when I made my most recent weekly grocery order I was filling my cart with all the closest approximations I could find to real Italian ingredients. The meat was easy. Genoa salami and mortadella are simple to find. Good Italian ham too, but I was on a budget here and trying not to arouse suspicion that I was buying Sandwichdad supplies with the family grocery order, so regular deli ham would have to do. 

Bread was another thing. Muffuletta needs to be on a Muffuletta loaf. As you may have guessed, there aren’t many authentic italian bakeries in The Yukon, but in the spirit of keeping it round and local, I decided to go with a big old sourdough.

Half loaf of Yukon Sourdough

As for the olive salad, There are plenty of recipes out there. You can even buy the prepared original recipe in jars from the central grocery website (https://centralgrocery.com/), but sadly they do not seem to ship all the way up to the Yukon. Even if they did, it’s 24 US dollars for two jars, and that’s before shipping. Even the local ingredient options were getting up there in price. The (now prepackaged due to global pandemic) supermarket olive bar was charging 8 dollars for their smallest possible amount, which forced my hand in picking up jarred olives. Then I went ahead and made my own version. I tried not to stray too far from the classic recipes I found, but Italian giardiniera is not an easy Whitehorse find either. Luckily I had my trusty pickled carrots, as well as some good olive oil (Croatian olive oil, which is good I guess maybe? The bottle was fancy anyway) and various other vinegars and herbs. I think it looked and smelled pretty authentic.

Sandwichdad’s 100% Un-Authentic Olive Salad

Also I already had some no name mozzarella.  

So, the stars were aligned, and I made it happen. I actually just finished eating it 

Verdict: This is a goddamned good sandwich. Even my po-dunk Yukon pandemic version. Having had other incredible Italian deli sandwiches throughout the world. I can only imagine how incredible it would be with the right bread, and that spicy salad, and some nice provolone. One of these days, when this is all over, I’ll go back to New Orleans. I will walk proud and tall into the Central Grocery on Decatur St and meekly ask if I could please have a muffuletta.

Gotta get that sweet Croatian olive oil

I’ll even get the full half I think.

Today, I only made a half, and I only ate a quarter. I wrapped up the other quarter for later. I really, really want the rest right now, but sandwich dad needs to pace himself in quarantine. Not because of all the sandwiches, either. it’s because of all the chips. If sandwiches are my true love, chips are my mistress. Holy shit, have I been pounding the chips, and it’s really bad for me.

wrapped for tomorrow

That’s an upcoming post though. The whole putting chips on sandwiches thing. I’m not yet sure if I’m fer it or agin it. 

Anyway, here’s my olive salad and Muffuletta recipe:

Sandwichdad’s 100% Un-Authentic Olive Salad

¼ of a White onion 

I rib of celery 

2 pickled carrots 

Most of a small jar of pimento stuffed olives

A small amount of back or kalamata olives

Chopp all ingredients finley and combine with splashes of the olive and pickled carrot juices. 

Add a decent amount of olive oil, and a few splashes of vinegar. Red wine vinegar is prefered, I used a combo of chinese black, rice and white. 

Add reasonable amounts of black pepper, basil and oregano. Italian herb mix also works.

Let it marinate for at least 24 hours

Sanwhichdad’s Yukon Muffuletta:

Cut a big round sourdough loaf horizontally. 

You can scoop out some of the excess bread to make more room for fillings and to make the sandwich less bready, but I wouldn’t do that. 

Put a heavy amount of Sandwichdad’s 100% Un-Authentic Olive Salad all over the bottom half. Spread a small amount and some of the oil from the salad on the top half. 

Throw down a double layer of genoa salami on top of the olive salad, followed by ham, then mortadella. Thn add some fairly thick sliced mozzarella and/or provolone cheese. 

Put the top piece of bread the top, and  slice into quarters. 

Best Muffuletta
muffuletta on homemade bread

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