Jims Galley

Jims Galley

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Muffuletta- JB's recipe and "Muff" tips

Where I got this recipe????  It did not come easy, here is the story.

The Muffuletta sandwich is arguably one of the best sandwiches in the world, if not the best. Also referred to as “The Muff” is a food item that was invented at the Central Grocery in New Orleans in 1906 and is of course known as the home of the Muffuletta. The interesting thing is as much as this sandwich is hailed around the world, it is hardly found anywhere outside of New Orleans. If you go to New Orleans, you will find different variations of this sandwich depending on where you go. On rare occasions while traveling I have found this sandwich at various places, would always try them, and was always disappointed.

 The “Muff” is a lot like a lot of dishes that people think you can only go out and get at only one or two places on earth, and be great! However the truth is you can make a Muffuletta at home just as good, and actually better than you can get anywhere, including New Orleans. This is not a difficult dish to make, however does require the knowledge of some artisanship in the baking area, the rest is rather straight forward as you will see here. The biggest problem I have with the sandwich is I have a hard time finding Italian Hams at delis. We live on the Chesapeake Bay, and the little Italian deli where you will find everything in New Orleans, does not exist around here. So, as far as the meats \ filling, some of mine are substitutions which are very similar to the original. I will also show the original filling and what I used to substitute for it. Either way, does not matter that much, the secret is in the Olive Salad and bread.

How did I get this recipe?? It did not happen overnight, it happened over the span of about 20 years. When we first got started producing the TV Show, my salesman and I went to New Orleans to a outdoor fishing show called AFTMA, to try an find sponsors for our program, then called, Fishing Virginia.. What we found was the Muffuletta Sandwich! No sponsors, but good Eats! This thing called "Muffuletta" was the best thing I ever had and I had it at the Central Grocery, the real deal, where the thing was invented. I could not figure out what made this thing so DARN good!!!

I was standing by the cash register and this old man, about 200 yrs old had a big bowl of Olive Salad at the counter and he was stirring it. I ask him “What is the secret to your awesome Muffuletta Sandwich??” He looked at me and said as he put a spoon of salad in his mouth, “It’s good on anything”. So, they sold the salad there and I bought a couple of jars to take home.

After getting back home, I continued to order the Olive Salad for years until one day I said, I am going to figure out how to make this. This was before the days of the Internet, so I called my Mom over to help me reverse engineer this Olive Salad. We did. We took the last of the Central Grocery jar and went to work. We figured everything that was in it and then I went off to the store to purchase all the ingredients. When I got back, we went to work on the recipe.

We were close, very close, everything was there but the taste was not quite there. It was good, but not an exact match to the original. So I had the idea of just sniffing the jar of the Central Grocery Olive Salad, then one by one, smelling the can of each ingredient that I had bought. When I got to the green olive can, BINGO!!! I took the brine from the Green Olives, added it to the salad, and there it was. The taste was identical, everything was there. Mom and I had reversed engineered the Olive Salad successfully and ever since I have made it every year during the holidays. From Thanksgiving threw Christmas, Muffuletta’s can be found at Jim’s Place. When guest come by for a sandwich they always say the same thing. WOW, best sandwich ever had. I had some Central Grocery olive salad last night that a friend gave me who just got back from New Orleans, Made a “Muff” for Ruthie, she had never had one. She said without a doubt, the best Sandwich she has ever had or heard of. I agreed.

I am enjoying writing this recipe a lot, because I have a small bowl of Olive Salad sitting beside me with a spoon in it. What fun!

Now here is the recipe, enjoy!

The Bread:

For years I have been going to stores asking them if they have round Italian loafs that I can make a Muffuletta with, the answer has always been NO!!

Make no mistake about it, with this sandwich, the bread is a BIG deal!

Cast iron skillets are PERFECT for making round Muffuletta Loafs
So, here is what you do, and it works fantastic and will really make your sandwich.

For the Sourdough Italian Bread recipe, just follow my Baugh's Baguette recipe, Click Here to review it. This is a sourdough recipe that uses a wild starter. I also use the King Arthur Flour starter as well. The only difference is you are going to use two eight-inch cast iron skillets for your baking pan. Oil your cast iron skillets or use an olive oil non-stick cooking spray. Put your dough in the skillet and let rise another 1 1\2 hour. Cast iron skillets are a GREAT way to bake bread. These skillets will give you the PERFECT round Italian loafs that you will want for this sandwich. **We used both toasted Sesame and Black Sesame seeds on top of loaf.

Use a pan in oven to steam bath the bread
Bake at 425 for 25 minutes then remove and place bread on cooling racks. Let bread cool 45 minutes before serving.

let bread cool on racks
Once the bread is cooled, slice horizontally and on the top of the round loaf, pick out a cavity in the bread. This will allow you to pile on the olive salad and will help form the sandwich.

NOTE: Flour mix for this recipe was
2 cups whole wheat white flour KAF
1 cup whole wheat flour KAF
3 cups KAF bread flour.
I used my standard Baugh's Baguette recipe with only a 20 minute Autolyse and a fast rise of around three hours. I did not have time for an overnight bulk ferment. This was a six hour bread from start to finish. It did turn out very good, super tasty, however I do prefer an overnight bulk ferment as long as time allows.
Pick out some bread in top of loaf. Helps hold the Olive Salad

Olive Salad:

Green Olives, (no pitts)
Calamatta Olives  Pitted
black olives
Cauliflower, carrots, celery, Pepperoncini \ thinly chopped
Garlic cloves chopped,
Celery, thinly sliced
Italian Parsley,
Fresh oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes
Green Onions, thinly sliced
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground pepper To Taste
(salt may not be necessary)
Sweet peppers
Green Olive Brine 1\2 cup
Olive oil 1\2 cup
Mix all ingredients and take off the stems of the pepperoncini. Try to leave some of the Pepperoncini whole and not diced up. You also don’t want all of your olives smashed. This should be a chunky salad, See Pic.

Put in a ball jar and set in fridge overnight.

Filling, Meats and Cheese:
Here is the original filling recipe-
Genoa Salami

Here is my substitutions based on what I can find-
Prosciutto, Smithfield Ham
Genoa Salami

Both are close and are great. Use what you like best and what you can find. Do have your meats shaved fresh and the cheese as well.

To Prepare.

First cut your bread into halfs and pick out the top half.
Next, put Motz Cheese on top of the top loaf
Next, on the second half start layering your filling.
Then provolone.
  Bake in oven at 375  until the cheese is a little brown and bubbly.

Out of oven and ready for Olive Salad

Top on, olive salad piled high inside, ready to cut into quarters. YUUUUM
Da BEST!!!!!!

Here is a GREAT Tip!

Try this!!! Awesome!

NOTE A) : I like to put some Anchovy paste on the bread before putting on the olive salad. Really adds a nice touch of flavor. I must credit “The Basement” in Richmond Virginia. Legendary sandwich place in the fan. The “Downstairs” was my fav sandwich there and it had anchovies on it. It was an Italian meat sandwich that was out of this world, my dad and I ate there for years. I like to put the Anchovy paste on the bread, however I have since read that some folks put it in the olive salad.

NOTE B): I have been asked if there is a reason why I make this for Christmas because it is not known as a holiday dish. The reason is simple. Many years ago when I ordered the olive salad through the mail, it happened to be around the Thanksgiving holiday. I smoke and deep fry Turkeys which is just wonderful meat, and I thought, why not use Turkey instead of the Deli Hams, etc. I did and it was a big hit. I actually like the meat filling much better with smoked sliced Turkey, totally unreal flavor!!!!  (les sodium as well) Once you get the bread and olive salad down, stuff the filling with what ever you like. Just like the 200 year old man said eating the olive salad behind the cash register at the Central Grocery, "It's good on anything!" And-   IT IS!!!!!!.

**************This Sandwich made with the entire round loaf can feed two VERY easy. Also great for parties, divi up in eight for appetizers. Your company will be very glad they came to your party for sure!

ENJOY! And Happy Holidays and Mery Christmas!!!!

Jim Baugh


Half a "Muff"

Does it get any better???


1 comment:

  1. Please, how much of each solid ingredient in the Olive Salad?