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, or for that matter, anywhere. The sandwich consists of a round loaf of crusty seeded Italian bread, split and filled with layers of sliced Provolone cheese, Genoa salami and ham between layers of garlicky olive salad. These sandwiches can be made several hours ahead, or even the day before, and refrigerated loosely covered with parchment paper.
My husband and I spent some time in New Orleans recently, and I insisted that we stand in line at the Central Grocery to taste the original Muffuletta. My husband, who was skeptical that any sandwich was worth an hour and a half wait, pronounced Central Grocery’s Muffuletta “the best sandwich he had ever eaten.” Muffulettas are on most of the menus in New Orleans restaurants, and are very popular with tourists and locals alike.
A Muffuletta is a great choice for a picnic since it’s less work to prepare one large sandwich than to prepare several small ones. I don’t live in an area where Muffuletta loaves are available at bakeries, so I always bake my own. The dough is mixed in my automatic bread machine, so it’s only about 10 minutes hands-on work. It’s extremely important that the bread be freshly baked for an authentic Muffuletta. The bread cannot be stored in plastic wrap since it will soften throughout. If you can purchase a round loaf at a bakery, and if it’s soft, put it in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes or until it is crisp on the outside
New Orleans Muffuletta4-6 Servings
1 10 oz. jar sliced salad olives with pimentos
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 muffuletta loaf (8-10 inches in diameter)
1/4 pound sliced salami
1/4 pound sliced ham
1/4 pound provolone cheese, sliced
Mix the olive salad ingredients, cover, and refrigerate. If you have time, let the mixture sit for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend; if you don't have time, then its okay. The olive salad can be made one week ahead.
Cut the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Brush some of the olive salad juice on the bottom and add a 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 and place the top of the loaf over. Press down slightly, then loosely wrap in parchment and refrigerate at least one hour. Do not wrap in plastic wrap.