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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Muffaletta, or Really? You don't have time to make a sandwich?

If I think back 2 1/2 years, I know that's the question I would have asked after reading what I am about to write.  How can you possibly be so tired, so disorganized, so worn-out that you can't make one little sandwich?  Any soon-to-be first-time parents who are reading and wondering the same thing, please take note of the response I have for my pre-baby self...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Call me back in 3 months and let me know how that "sleeping through the night" thing is going.

Anyway...freezing sandwich fixings is mostly about having something in the freezer so that you don't have to go grocery shopping and possibly snagging a good sale on deli meat.  But deli meat, sliced cheese and rolls do freeze really well (provided you've packaged them airtight), so put an easy-peasy dinner in your back pocket for those days when even take-out is too hard. 

Hummus is a good veggie sandwich option that freezes nicely, too.  You can even assemble some cheese sandwiches for grilling (go ahead and butter the bread) and wrap them invidually in plastic wrap to freeze.  Total lifesaver when there's a screaming baby, a hungry toddler and no lunch plan.

For something a little more interesting than a plain ol' bologna sandwich, I love muffaletta.  Love the New Orleans Central Grocery muffaletta, love this one too.  It's adapted from Emeril Lagasse's muffaletta recipe.  I double the amount of olive relish since the giardiniera called for only comes in containers twice the size required by the recipe at my local stores.  Work once, eat twice.  I also hate standing in line at the deli counter -- Publix...Boca Raton...Parkinsonian retiree with half a loaf of bread stashed in her purse wanting "samples"...'nuff said -- so I'd rather buy twice as much deli meat and freeze it so that I've got all the making for TWO of these delectable sandwiches on deck.  You can make this ahead the night before even, so it's a shop-ahead, prep-ahead and make-ahead meal...fabulous for parties, too.

Emeril calls for some authentic Italian-type deli meats that we just don't get in my neck of the woods, so I sub out a spicy ham for capicolla and P&P loaf for mortadella.

Muffaletta (makes 2 sandwiches, each serves 8)

Olive Relish:
2 cups pimento-stuffed olives, plus 1/4 cup of liquid from the jar
2 cups giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables), plus 2 tablespoons of liquid from the jar (a 16-oz jar is about 2 cups)
1/4 cup drained capers, plus 4 teaspoons of liquid from the jar
1 cup pitted black olives
4 cloves garlic
1 small minced shallot
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of crushed red pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pulse the garlic cloves and shallots in a food processor until finely chopped.  Add the olives, giardiniera, capers in the processor and pulse several times until coarsely chopped.  It's ok if there are some big chunks left. 

Combine the brines, olive oil and herbs and spices in a medium bowl.  Add the chopped vegetables and stir well.  Divide into two zip-top bags.

Deli Meats/Cheeses:
1/2 pound sliced fresh mozzarella
1/2 pound sliced capicollo or prosciutto (or spicy ham)
1/2 pound sliced Genoa salami
1/2 pound sliced mortadella (or P&P or bologna)
1/2 pound sliced mild provolone cheese

Divide each type of meat and cheese in half and put them in zip-top bags.

To serve:
for each sandwich, one large round loaf (10"-12") of sourdough or Italian bread, split lengthwise

When you're ready to make the sandwich, thaw all your fixings.  Cut the bread in half and scoop out some of the crumb from the top and bottom halves of the bread. 

Fill the scooped out part with olive relish. 

Cover each half with slices of cheese.  Arrange each type of meat in a layer over the cheese.  CAREFULLY close the halves together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and put this in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, if you have time.  To serve, cut into wedges.

FYI...if you want to make your own bread for this sandwich, I made a half recipe of the Pain Ordinaire Carême from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. Pin It

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