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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Central Grocery’s Muffuletta Sandwiches

Years ago I visited New Orleans and fell in love with the Muffulettas at Central Grocery in the French Quarter. I bought two bottles of their olive salad to bring home with me but they didn't last long. I felt lucky to find online a recipe that tasted remarkably like Central Grocery's signature sandwich spread. It's been so long I'm uncertain, though, where I found it.

Central Grocery’s Muffuletta Sandwiches

Serves about 6, depending on how much salad is spread on the sandwiches

Rolls--the authentic sandwich is made on a thin, disk of bread and cut into four servings, but I substitute hoagie rolls if I don't have time to make a loaf.

Lunchmeats, such as ham, prosciutto, genoa salami, mortadella

Provolone cheese

Olive salad:

2/3 c green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2/3 c black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 (16-oz) jar Italian Mix Giardiniera, juice reserved, vegetables chopped
1/4 c pimientos, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 filet anchovy, finely chopped or mashed (or 1 teas anchovy paste)
1 T capers
1/3 c parsley, finely chopped
1 teas oregano (or1 T chopped fresh oregano)
1/4 teas black pepper
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil

Mix ingredients together and add some of the reserved Giardiniera liquid if desired (I usually don’t—the olive oil makes it juicy enough). It would be best to let it sit for an hour or so to blend the flavors but if you are in a rush, use it as soon as it is mixed. Spread some olive salad on sandwich rolls. Layer meat and cheese on rolls and serve—or let diners build their own sandwiches.

Note from Colette:  If anchovies are unfamiliar to you, don't hesitate to use them. I've tried this without the anchovy and its absence was noticeable. Anchovy is an important flavor component. In the grocery store you'll find these near tuna fish cans in small bottles or tins. I hear that Italian varieties are the best but haven't done my own testing so can't verify that rumor. Once you open a tin, move the filets to a small jar and cover with olive oil. If you buy a jar of anchovies, ensure they are covered with oil as well. This will help them to store for a very long time in your refrigerator. Tubes of anchovy paste are convenient and mess free, but I don't find them to last as long as jarred anchovies.

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