Celebrate Fat Tuesday with Muffulettas and Wine
I was lucky enough to kick off my 21st year with a culinary tour of New Orleans from a local during the week before Mardi Gras. We celebrated the heady days before Fat Tuesday and the upcoming Lent with traditional New Orleans fare like fried oyster Po Boys, beignets from Cafe du Monde and muffuletta sandwiches from Central Grocery.
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Muffulettas were invented in 1906 at that very same Central Grocery in New Orleans. It’s a sandwich built on a whole loaf of round sesame bread — the whole loaf turns into a sandwich. Muffulettas are then stuffed with salami and ham, loaded with Provolone and made unique with a perfectly greasy olive salad – the oil soaks into the bread for the perfect February treat. The flavors came from a late 1800s, Sicilian wave of workers that entered New Orleans in big numbers, bringing their tasty cuisine to Southern Lousiana. If you really want to eat like a local, eat your muffuletta with local Zapp’s potato chips and you’re set for the season.
You’ll want to plan ahead of time to make this sandwich, I like to make sure the olive salad gets at least 8 hours to marinate. Muffulettas then need another hour of resting and soaking after they’re assembled.
When serving, muffuletta sandwiches are delicious with red wines like promisQous red and Middle Sister Drama QueenPinot Grigio – the salty mix of olives and salami brings out the fruitiness of the wines.
Here’s our take on the Muffuletta sandwich – happy munching!
Olive Salad Ingredients:
1 cup chopped green olives
1 cup chopped black olivesed
1 tablespoon capers
1/3 cup diced roasted red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped fine
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 round loaf of Italian bread — anywhere between 6 and 10 inches in diameter, cut in half crosswise with the insides scooped out
at least 4 ounces each thinly sliced salami, deli ham and mortadella
at least 4 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
At least 6 hours before preparing sandwich Make the olive salad by mixing together the chopped green and black olives, capers, roasted bell pepper, celery, parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Set in a non-reactive bowl and put the bowl in the refrigerator.
After the olive salad has marinated, make the sandwich!
Spread half the olive salad on the bottom half of the bread.
Layer the rest of the olive salad over the top of the meat and cheese. Cover the glorious mess with the top of the bread and press down. I like to cover the sandwich with plastic wrap and then weigh it with a filled tea kettle for about 15 minutes.
Let the sandwich soak in the olive salad goodness for at least an hour.
We’ve paired some of our favorite New Orleans specialties with some of our favorite wines – match up below!
– Helen Jane Hearn, Wine Sisterhood Entertaining Extraordinaire