How To Make A Traditional New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich

If you are a fan of sandwiches, but are tired of the same old usual combinations, try a muffuletta. A muffuletta sandwich hails from New Orleans, Louisiana. Sicilian immigrants to the area created this culinary delight, using muffuletta bread. Cured meats, cheese, and a marinated olive relish are the hallmarks of this flavorful sandwich. Here's everything you need to know to create this wonderful sandwich at home. 

The Bread

Muffuletta is the name of both the bread and the sandwich. This large, round, flat bread, approximately ten inches in diameter, is similar to a focaccia bread, but it has no seasonings like focaccia bread frequently does. It is simply sprinkled with sesame seeds.

A muffuletta bread is less dense than a focaccia bread, and is crispy on the outside, comparable to a crusty loaf of French bread. If you can't find a traditional muffuletta bread from your local deli or bakery, don't worry; a focaccia bread still makes a great substitution. 

The Meats

Traditionally, capicola (sometimes called coppa), Genoa salami, and mortadella are used. Capicola is a dry-cured meat, usually sliced very thin. It is similar to prosciutto, which can stand in if you can't find capicola. Genoa salami is a pork sausage, but it may occasionally also have the addition of beef. It is flavored with peppercorns and garlic. Mortadella is a meat that is similar in flavor and texture to bologna, which is a good substitution. 

The Cheeses

Mozzarella and Provolone are most commonly used. While these two cheeses may seem similar looking and tasting, mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese whereas provolone is a semi-hard cheese, so the texture is different. Provolone can also be aged, giving it a sharper flavor, or smoked. 

The Relish

This olive salad is what makes the muffuletta. The main ingredients for this relish are pimento-stuffed olives, capers, and chopped giardiniera. Capers are the pickled flowers of the capers bush and are readily available in most delis and grocery stores. Giardiniera are pickled vegetables, typically bell peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower and gherkins or baby pickles. It is sometimes available in a spicier version, known as hot mix. To make the olive relish, use ¾ of a cup of sliced green olives, ¾ of a cup of the giardiniera, and 2 tablespoons each of capers, minced garlic, and chopped shallots. Add a tablespoon or two of the juice from the olives and giardiniera. You can also add a ¼ cup of chopped Calamata olives if desired. Season this mixture with oregano, parsley, and thyme, and then mix in a ½ cup of olive oil.

The Sandwich

Slice your bread horizontally. Spread each half generously with the olive relish, and then layer with the meats and cheeses. Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap, and allow it to sit for an hour or two before eating. This will give it time for the relish to soak into the bread and the flavors to meld. 

Contact a local deli like Deer Park Deli to learn more.