A friend sent me this photo of gumbo with the caption “Boudreaux and Thibodaux at ‘Da Spa.” It’s a clever Mardi Gras serving idea, but I don’t think I could bite into those cute little rice faces. This Tuesday is Mardi Gras and I’m not serving cute bowls of gumbo; I’m making Muffelatta sandwiches instead.
Muffelattas are as popular as po’ boys in Louisiana. Locals and tourists still line up to get a muffelatta at Central Grocery in the French Quarter where they were invented. The sandwiches were made famous decades ago when Central Grocery created them for Sicilian and Italian farmers selling produce at the farmers’ market.
Family and friends line up to get my muffelattas, too. Of course, my sandwiches are free, but they are also the best you’ll ever have. It’s taken years of tweaking and experimenting, help from two Louisiana friends, plus the advice of a deli manager to perfect my muffelatta. In the spirit of Mardi Gras, I’m sharing the three secrets here: the recipe for the muffelatta salad dressing, the kinds of meat and cheese, and the perfect breads.
MUFFELATTA SANDWICH DRESSING
1 – 21 oz. jar pimiento stuffed manzanilla salad olives; 1 – 6 oz.can ripened black pitted olives; 1 cup celery cut in ¼ to 1/2” pieces; 1 medium onion, chopped; 1 carrot cut in ¼” pieces; 4-6 cloves garlic, minced; 3 TBSP capers, drained and rinsed; 2 TSP oregano; 1 juiced lemon and ½ its rind, grated; ¼ cup olive oil; ¼ cup vinegar.
Drain and wash the olives thoroughly. Clean and reserve the jar. Cut large olives in eights and small olives in fourths. Mix all ingredients, put in the jay and another one if needed, and marinate overnight. Never store in plastic. Refrigerate, but serve at room temperature. Will last for three weeks when refrigerated.
From the deli: 1 slice per sandwich of provolone cheese, genoa salami, mortadella and Italian ham. Serve on muffelatta bread (if available) or King’s Hawaiian or Martin’s “sweet” sandwich buns. Brown the buns in butter. Layer with cheese and meats. Warm open face under the broiler till cheese melts. Then place a layer of sandwich dressing inside the buns or broil the salad on open side of bun while cheese and meats broil on other side. Place the two sides together and wrap in aluminum foil. Keep warm till serving time.