New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich

     Laissez les bons temps rouler!! Let the good times roll! And New Orleans is a city that knows how to throw a party. One aspect of the famous Mardi Gras celebration are the extravagant parades. For days before hand the different krewes parade through the city on lavish floats throwing beads, and cups, and stuffed animals to millions of onlookers. When not in use during the parade season the floats are stored at Mardi Gras World, a huge warehouse down by the river. During the off season when the artists are in their workshops preparing for the next year you can tour the warehouse as see some of the props from years past, and some of the props being created for the upcoming year. The tour includes a sample of colorful King Cake, beads in place of tickets, a movie on the history of the festival, the floats, and the krewes and then you can walk through the warehouse. 

     The base of most of the props are actually just foam. Large slabs of foam are glued together and then carved down to the desired shape. That is cover in paper mache and then painted. This means that even though they look huge, and solid, they are actually fairly light. 

     In this alligator head you can see the lines all through the foam. Those are the glue seams holding it together. Now that it has been carved it is waiting to be covered and then painted. 

     An artist in the warehouse working in her studio, painting a paper mache covered prop. The jester is being painted in the traditional purple, green, and gold. Purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power. Together they are an iconic representation of the revelry that is the modern Mardi Gras spectacle. 

     The muffuletta, like the city as a whole, is a unique blend of so many flavors. Those flavors create an exciting mix.

     I want to talk about some of the meats that make up this great sandwich for just a minute. It's a great combination of flavors and textures but if you can't get all of them don't worry, you can still make a delicious sandwich. The olive salad, the cheese, and the meats all add so much missing one won't ruin the day. 

Mortadella - mortadella is an Italian sausage luncheon meat. It's fairly finely ground and typically contains pistachios. If you can't find Italian mortadella look for jagdwurst. It's not as finely ground as mortadella, which is similar to bologna, but it has a similar flavor (and pistachios!) 

Capicola - Is Italian dry cured pork. It bright red and marbled with fat. It's similar in texture to prosciutto but the flavor is more robust. I prefer spicy capicola. 

Salami - Salami is fairly common in American markets by now. It looks similar to pepperoni but is less intensely red and the flavor is much more subtle. 

Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe
1 large loaf Italian bread
4 slices provolone cheese
4 slices mozzarella cheese
4 oz. sliced Mortadella
4 oz. sliced salami
4 oz. sliced ham
4 oz. sliced hot Capicola

1 (6 oz.) can ripe green olives
6 kalamata olives
1/4 c. giardiniera vegetables
2 Tbsp. capers
3 green onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. oregano
black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cider vinegar

     Place all of the ingredients for the olive salad in a food processor. Process until it is to your desired level of chunkiness. Some people prefer it fairly smooth, some people prefer it in larger pieces. Place in a medium air tight container and refrigerate overnight. 

     Cut the bread from the top of the loaf. Carve a circle around the top of the bread. Cut almost to the bottom of the loaf but don't cut through. Leave a layer of bread to be the bottom half of the sandwich. Gently pull the top of the loaf out of the main part of the loaf. Cut the majority of the bread off the top piece and set aside. 

     Place half of the olive mixture in to the well you crated in the bread and spread it to the edges. Place the slices of ham on the bottom and top with the salami. Top that with the mozzarella. Next add the capicola and then the mortadello, topped with the provolone cheese slices. Spread the remaining olive salad on top of the provolone cheese. Add the reserved strip of bread you removed from the top and fit it back in to the well. Wrap securely, but not tight enough to crush it. Refrigerate for 4 hours. 

     Remove from the fridge and slice across to show off all the layers. Serve with Zapp's potatoes chips and Abita Root Beer


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