Thursday, May 28, 2009
I was in Junior High on vacation with my parents and my younger brother and sister when I tasted my first Mufalletta. It was lunch time, we were starving, and happened upon a small restaurant with a long line of people stretching out the front door.
My mom, the adventurous one of the family, said it would be worth the wait.
I was skeptical. A sandwich? A line that long for a sandwich?
Up until then, my only reference for a good sandwich was a flimsy piece of pimento loaf slapped between two pieces of Roman Meal and some mustard. I lived a pretty contented life up until then. But that was pre-muffaletta. Once you've had a good muffaletta, there's no going back.
It all begins with the Olive Salad.
A sandwich, in theory, is made up of equally important components: bread, meat, cheese, some type of dressing - but a Muffuletta sandwich without the Olive Salad is, well, like an orchestra without it's conductor. It just won't work. This concoction of tangy, green olives and vegetables marinated in olive oil and vinegar along with oregano and garlic is what brings this sandwich to life. There's something about that vinegar taste that I crave. Like Pavlov's dog, I literally salivate whenever I take a whiff of this olive salad. Note: Some recipes call for lots of black olives or even Kalamata in this salad, but I prefer lots of plain old green olives for the most kick.
Next we have the bread, a nice round Italian to soak up all that vinegar and oil goodness.
Last but not least, we have thinly sliced, high quality, deli ham, salami, and Provolone cheese, stacked so high I could barely get my mouth around it.
And that's pretty much all there is to a Muffuletta. Sometimes I put finely shredded lettuce and thinly sliced tomato, but I didn't have any today, and the sandwich was still excellent without it, if not better. Also, I recommend making it ahead of time, wrapping it up and sticking it in the fridge to marinate a bit. That'll really gets the flavors going.
The bakery I go to was out of ciabatta bread, so I went with a French boule instead. Which was a bit too rustic for this sandwich and a bit too thick, so I scooped out some of the inner bread.
Next time, I think I'm going to try baking my own bread for this sandwich. I'll let you know how it turns out.