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.
Spanish pimento olives
pitted black olives, kalamatas work fine
cloves garlic, peeled (see note below)
dried Italian oregano
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
ground black pepper
thinly sliced capicola
thinly sliced premium cooked ham
sliced provolone cheese
A little creole mustard
In This Recipe
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.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.