Let’s talk muffuletta, and then let’s talk the best muffuletta sandwich.
What is a muffuletta sandwich?
The muffuletta originated in the French Quarter of New Orleans at the Central Grocery. It has some loose ties to Italian immigrants, but it’s famous for its layers upon layers of fatty mortadella, salty salami, hot soppressata, creamy provolone, briny olive salad, and crunchy giardiniera.
What makes the best muffuletta sandwich?
The best muffuletta sandwich balances those delicious striations of salt, fat, sweet, and sour between that sesame-dusted Italian bread.
Unfortunately, too many muffulettas focus too heavily on the salty, fatty meat and not enough on the tangy, crunchy giardiniera and olive tapenade.
The result is a dry, hard to finish mishmash of meat, cheese, and bread. This is a sandwich needs that hit of acid and crunch.
You can use store-bought giardiniera and olive tapenade, but don’t skimp on anything. It’s essential. I’m telling you, load that thing up. If you think you’re too aggressive, you’re not.
When the sandwich looks impossibly full, wrap it tightly in plastic and weigh it down with a cast-iron skillet in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving.
That’ll set things right.
While mine may not be ‘authentic,’ it’s the best muffuletta sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
The Best Muffuletta Sandwich — An Updated Classic
- 1.25 cups water
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium carrot (thinly sliced)
- 1 rib celery (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 head cauliflower (finely chopped)
- 1 cup mixed olives (pitted, sliced)
- 2 roasted red peppers (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
- 1 6-inch-round Italian loaf with sesame seeds (split horizontally)
- 4 oz provolone (thinly sliced)
- 6 oz mortadella (thinly sliced)
- 6 oz salami (thinly sliced)
- 6 oz hot soppressata (thinly sliced)
To make the giardiniera
- In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, garlic, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Chop the cauliflower, carrot, and celery and toss with the oil in a medium bowl. Pour the hot brine over the cut vegetables and let cool to room-temperature, about 1 hour. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
To make the olive relish
- In a small bowl, combine the sliced olives, chopped peppers, capers and parsley. Mix and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
To assemble the sandwich
- Spread a generous amount of olive relish on the top half of the bread and a followed by an equally generous amount of giardiniera on the bottom half. Layer the provolone, mortadella, salami, and hot soppressata on the bottom half of the bread. Close the sandwich and press down gently. Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic and weigh it down with a cast-iron skillet in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving. Slice into four pieces and serve.