ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

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Mufaletta: We ain’t f*cking around… in Sandwich Form

2014-06-22 18.15.05When I want a sandwich, I don’t want a little turkey on bread. I either want chicken salad on a toasted croissant or I want muffaletta. Chicken salad is tempting fate with botulism and celery seeds. Muffaletta is pure NoLa goodness.

A little history, the Central Market in New Orleans supposedly invented the muffaletta sandwich, which is typically mortadella, salami, ham, provolone or swiss cheese on a 8″-12″ round loaf of bread. The real showstopper is the “olive salad” added to the top, which is chopped olives with giardiniera, garlic, herbs and oil. The sandwich is named after the bread – a soft italian loaf with sesame seeds baked into the top, however, it seems silly today to actually just buy the bread… The sandwich is so much better. According to the daughter of the original owner of the Central Market, her father served bread, meat and cheeses to Italian immigrant farmers coming to the market to sell vegetables. Necessity being the mother of invention and all, the sandwich was more portable and easier to eat, rather than balancing the ingredients on one’s lap.

I learned to make a Muffaletta sandwich when I worked as a teenager at the now-defunct Opera House cajun restaurant in Pecatonica, IL. I remember the chef weighting the sandwiches down with gallon-sized metal cans of tomato sauce. I never remember seeing any of the tomato sauce get used in the restaurant – I think the cans were there because they were the right size and weight to make a great muffaletta.

Ingredients: 1/2 lb mortadella, 1/2 lb salami, 1/4 lb hot capricola, 1/2 lb provolone cheese. All sliced thin, but not paper thin. (Not shown: olive tepenade and a large round loaf of crusty bread.)

Ingredients: 1/2 lb mortadella, 1/2 lb salami, 1/4 lb hot capricola, 1/2 lb provolone cheese. All sliced thin, but not paper thin. (Not shown: olive salad and a large round loaf of crusty bread.)

 

Step 1: Make olive tapenade. In a food processor, combine 3 cloves garlic, 12 oz pimento stuffed olives (drained), parsley, and olive oil. Process until chunky. Cut bread in half and hollow out the top to make more room for sandwich. Spread 2/3 tapenade onto top and bottom of bread.

Step 1: Make olive salad. In a food processor, combine 3 cloves garlic, 12 oz pimento stuffed olives (drained), fresh parsley, and olive oil. Process until chunky. Cut bread in half and hollow out the top to make more room for sandwich. Spread 2/3 tapenade onto top and bottom of bread.

 

Layer meats and cheeses, and remaining 1/3 of tapenade. Weight sandwich and press for 30 minutes. I'm using the Holy Trinity: McGee, Bittman and Child.

Layer meats and cheeses, and remaining 1/3 of tapenade. Weight sandwich and press for 30 minutes. I’m using the Holy Trinity: McGee, Bittman and Child. Slice into wedges and serve. Wrap leftovers (ha!) and it gets a lot better after a day in the fridge and a trip to the office in your bag.

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4 Comments

Picnic Chicken Sandwiches

I enjoy the novelty of good road food. I rarely eat and drive-the roads in New Hampshire are too hilly and curvy. But Sam and I planned a road trip to visit his grandmother and I was anticipating 4 hours of flat, straight interstate highway driving. One of my fiend’s mom would pack up a box of these sandwiches for our drive back home after visiting. They’re ideal road food because they are small bites, don’t make a mess, and taste better after being in the car for a few hours.

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Picnic chicken sandwich

Two boneless skinless chicken breasts with tenderloins.
Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle, or a similar blend of spices.
Flour
Butter
Vegetable oil
Bread
Lettuce
Mayonnaise

Step one. Separate the tenderloin from the breast. Cut the breast into two pieces the short way then cross cut to make four chicken cutlets.

Step two. Liberally sprinkle each side of the chicken pieces with sandwich sprinkle. Pound out the chicken cutlets until they are one quarter to an half an inch thick. Make sure that they are of uniform thickness.

Step three. Dredge the chicken pieces in a light coating of flour.

Step four. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the pan is hot and the butter has stopped foaming, lay three pieces of chicken into the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Add extra butter or oil to the hand as the fat is absorbed by the cooking chicken. Set the chicken aside on paper towels to cool.

Step five. After cooking the chicken, lightly toast the bread in pan, using extra butter if needed. Cut into triangles.

Step six. Smear a bit of mayo on the bread (optional, especially if you’re not going to have a cooler to keep your food cool.) Top the bread with a slice of lettuce and a piece of chicken. Fold the bread around the chicken to make a pocket.  Wrap in wax paper and pack up for your picnic.

Edited on Aug 1, 2013 to improve language in step 6.