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French Quarter Muffuletta

 

 

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French Quarter Muffuletta Sandwich

Real American Food:
Jane and Michael Stern's
Coast-to-Coast Cookbook...
icon
by Jane and Michael Stern, 1986, Alfred A. Knopf

Alibris 

"New Orleans has a grocery meal with a completely different character.
Muffuletta sandwiches - dished out from delis, pool halls, and corner
groceries - are low-down, raunchy grub, city food, to be eaten with two
fists, on the street, or maybe on a bench. The place that claims to have
invented the muffuletta sandwich is the Central Grocery on Decatur Street.
The Grocery, like the French Quarter that surrounds it, seems a million
miles from the down-home drawls you hear at Ruth 'n' Jimmie's or Porkey
Seller's catfish pawnshop. The chatter is Italian or the French-sounding
New Orleans patois. The neighborhood store is stocked with pasta, oil, and
tomato paste imported from Italy; its walls are decorated with fading travel
posters. It pulses with the upbeat rhythms of a neighborhood hangout.
The only food they prepare at the Central Grocery is sandwiches. (Watch
them being made at the butcher block table behind the counter.) And there
is no place to eat them [at least next to no place]. But that doesn't stop
Orleanians from lining up out into the street for the Grocery's muffulettas,
deemed by experts to be the city's best.
A muffuletta is distinguished in two ways from what Northerners call a
grinder, hero, or hoagie. First, it is made on a round loaf of Italian bread.
Loaves are baked in three sizes, but even the smallest, once stuffed, is a
giant meal for one. A large muffuletta, cut in quarters, will feed four.
The second unique feature of a muffuletta is the one that makes it taste
good. And this one you can do at home even if you cannot get your hands
on a round loaf of Italian bread. It is the olive salad that is sprinkled on
the cold cuts: prickly, broken-up, pungent olives, perfumed with oil,
dripping juice.
A muffuletta, by the way, must always be served at room temperature,
never toasted. Hot muffulettas, according to New Orleans food oracle
Richard Collins, are "blasphemy...introduced by a chain of pizza places
to amortize their ovens between the making of wretched pizzas."

Olive Salad:
2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped green olives
2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped black olives
1/2 cup chopped pimiento
3 garlic cloves, minced fine
1 anchovy fillet, mashed
1 tablespoon capers
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

To Construct the Sandwich:
1 large loaf fresh Italian bread (round loaf preferred)
1/3 pound hard salami, sliced thin
1/3 pound ham, sliced thin
1/3 pound Provolone cheese, sliced thin

Slice bread horizontally and scoop out about half of the soft dough
from top and bottom. Brush bottom of loaf with olive oil or juice from
olive salad marinade. Layer on cold cuts. Top with as much olive salad
as will fit without spilling out. Replace top of loaf. Slice in quarters.


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