There is some debate out there that the muffaletta might actually be the best sandwich in all of America. We don't know who said it, or how they came to that conclusion, but we can confirm that it definitely has everything you could ever ask for in a really great sandwich.
Born in New Orleans, the sandwich is said to have been created by Italian immigrants, who would make a big one in the morning, snack on it throughout the day while they worked, and heat up what was left for dinner that night. Not a bad way to get through the day, if you ask me.
It is my dream to one day travel the world and eat every iconic sandwich in its place of origin, documenting my journey in a witty memoir. Muffalettas in New Orleans; Cheese steaks in Philly; Cemita and torta in Mexico; Cubans in Cuba; Bahn mi in Vietnam...What a dream it is.
Both the sandwich and the olive salad are open to interpretation here. You can use whatever kind of cold cuts or cheese you fancy, but mortadella, salami and provolone is traditional. If you are going to use a different kind of cheese just make sure it is a good melter.
Ralph, of Grafton's Welcome Eatery, reckons this sandwich is the ideal drunken snack. We agree, but would also happily go to town on it stone cold sober, any time of the day. I recommend you get a bunch of your best buddies together and cook up a whole slab for a muffaletta party. You'll be the most popular kid on the block.
Serves 12 lucky pals
For the olive salad
1 cup of black olives, pitted
1 cup of green olives stuffed with pimentos
1 cup of roasted red peppers
1 cup of pickled Italian giardiniera vegetables (Giardiniera is a pickled mix of carrots, cauliflower, capsicum and celery. You can use any kind of pickled vegetables you like here.)
6 cloves garlic
4 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons of chilli flakes
1 cup of olive oil
- Wazz everything together in a food processor, or mince it finely by hand with a knife.
For the sandwich
250 grams of provolone, thinly sliced
400 grams of Italian salami, thinly sliced
400 grams of mortadella, thinly sliced
A big handful of Italian flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
1 whole slab of focaccia (a slab of focaccia is generally about the size of a standard oven tray, and will make 12 decent sized sandwiches. Available from speciality bread stores. Or use a couple of smaller focaccia loaves).
- Cut your focaccia slab in half lengthways. Layer the entire bottom piece with olive salad.
- Follow with a layer of salami, then mortadella, and finally cheese and parsley.
- Cut in to quarters so it will fit in your sandwich press.
- Toast each piece in your sandwich press until the cheese is melted.
- Cut each quarter in to three pieces (giving you a total of 12 sandwiches).