Author Notes: One of the greatest native food items to come out of New Orleans is the muffaletta sandwich. Central Grocery is renowned for theirs. But you can also taste a fine one on the café menu at Napoleon House on Chartres. Napoleon House gets its name from the fact that in 1821 it was offered as a residence to Bonaparte during his exile. Being an unapologetic Bonapartist mine is a tribute to Boney. Now let’s see if he shows up for lunch. The primary components of the sandwich are ham, salami, provolone cheese and topping of olive salad, packed into a crusty round loaf.
Because it’s difficult to find the proper Italian style round bread loaf outside of New Orleans you might want to think about doing as I did here and pick up an 8 ¾ oz boule, which will feed two. The ingredients indicated here for the olive salad will produce enough for two sandwiches this size.
- 1/2 cup Spanish pimento olives
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives, kalamatas work fine
- 4-6 cornichons
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled (see note below)
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian oregano
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 pound thinly sliced capicola
- 1/4 pound thinly sliced premium cooked ham
- 1/4 pound sliced provolone cheese
- A little creole mustard
- It's easy to make the olive salad in the bowl of a food processor using the olives, cornichons, garlic, oregano, olive oil, vinegar and black pepper. Give everything a few quick pulses. It should remain a bit chunky---somewhat more coarse than a tapenade (to which it's related).
- Spoon the olive salad into a non-reactive bowl and cover with cling wrap. It should then go into the refrigerator to rest for 5 to 8 hours, and will keep well overnight and into the following day.
- To assemble, use a sharp bread knife to divide the loaf into two halves horizontally like a giant hamburger bun. Smear some mustard on the bottom half and stack the ham, capicola, provolone, and scoop a generous helping of olive salad over. Cover with the top portion and divide into halves or quarters. Bring napkins.
- Note to the cook: for the garlic I use a "garlic confit" that I learned from Thomas Keller's BOUCHON cookbook. That consists of about 40 cloves of peeled garlic covered in canola oil and "poached" for about forty minutes---a flame tamer is advised. Store the garlic and oil in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use. After a few days the oil will be highly perfumed. I think the little Corsican would like that touch. It's handy to have on hand and you can add a little of the oil to the salad.
- If you are a capable home baker you may want to make your own loaf. I've thought about substituting a fougasse.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best "Ham and Cheese"