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Recipes

Muffoletta recipes for the bread, salad and sandwich

LOS ANGELES, California, USA This section includes recipes for the authentic muffoletta bread, salad and sandwich.

Bread

Authentic muffoletta bread originated in Sicily hundreds of years ago.  Ingredients include the standard ones for making Italian bread:  flour, water, yeast, salt, shortening and sugar, plus fennel or sesame seeds for the top. 

The original muffoletta bread from Sicily has a softer crust and a denser interioir than 'normal' Italian loaves.  Its shape is round (about 10" diameter) but lower in height than 'normal'.  The loaves are covered with fennel or sesame seeds.

The muffoletta requires "young dough".  That is, the baker does not allow the dough to rise like most Italian bread.  Nor is the dough punched down and allowed to rise again.  As a result, the bread has a dense interior.  Moreover, in order to give the muffoletta its characteristic flat appearance (like a fingerless mitten), the dough is not allowed to rise.  A baking sheet it placed over the dough, so that it spreads out rather than rises.  Using the baking sheet also increases the density of the interior.  The result is a loaf that resembles a fingerless mitten -- with a round, thin shape and hollow on the inside.

The shape of the muffoletta bread makes it ideal for stuffing.  In Sicily, residents fill the bread with cheese, fish or meat.  In New Orleans, Sicilian immigrants in 1906 created the famous sandwich with the bread, filling it with olive salad, meats and cheeses.  Because the bread is so dense, it absorbs the oil in the olive salad.  As a result, the sandwich retains the liquid ingredients without leaking.  Most Italian loaves lack the density to absorb the olive salad.

For customers in many parts of the world, including the U.S., the surface and texture of the original muffoletta bread are unusual.  The exterior is softer and its interior is denser than customers expect.  Therefore, bakers today often use a different recipe to make a loaf which they call a muffoletta but which does not have the characteristic exterior or interior.  Most so-called muffoletta recipes produce a harder crust and lighter interior than the softer, denser original.

Recipes in this section include the original recipe (with a softer exterior and denser interior) as well as a modernized version (with a crustier exterior and lighter interior). 

The first is that for a modern version recipe for muffoletta bread.

Salad

The authentic muffoletta sandwich from New Orleans requires the authentic olive salad.

The authentic New Orleans muffoletta olive salad includes olives (including green olives, black olives and the olive oil), celery, cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, onions, capers, parsley, pepperoncini, oregano, garlic, as well as the vinegar used to preserve the vegetables and other herbs and spices.

Many recipes for olive salad have been updated for modern tastes with the addition of hot peppers like cayenne and other ingredients.

Hundreds of recipes for olive salad can be found on the Internet.  A survey of the recipes reveals that, while most produce a good salad, not a single one of the recipes is the original, authentic recipe from New Orleans.

Recipes in this section include the original recipe as well several that are easier and modernized.  Her is a basic olive salad recipe.

Sandwich

The authentic muffoletta sandwich from New Orleans requires the original ingredient:  the authentic muffoletta bread (see above);  the authentic muffoletta olive salad (see above);  mortadella (the Italian sausage);  cappicola (the Italian ham);  salami (the hard Genoa salami);  provolone (the Italian hard cheese);  and emmanetaler (the hard Swiss cheese).

The original sandwich was constructed so that the bread retains all the fillings for several hours without leaking. 

Recall the history:  the Central Grocery made the sandwiches very early in the morning.  The Sicilian farmers in New Orleans purchased the sandwiches to eat at mid-day.  Because the muffoletta bread is dense, the bread absorbed the olive oil and did not leak.  In addition, because the sandwich was not eaten for several hours, the many flavors of the salad, meats and cheeses melded together and grew complex.

As for the salad, hundreds of recipes for the muffoletta sandwich can be found on the Internet.  However, a review of many of the recipes shows that few of them are authentic.  Many include non-traditional ingredients, like lettuce, tomatoes and mayonaisse.  The key to the muffoletta sandwich is simplicity of ingredients, whichi produce a complexity of textures and flavors.

This section includes the original recipe for the muffoletta sandwich.


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