“There is an art to the business of making sandwiches which it is given to few ever to find the time to explore in depth. It is a simple task, but the opportunities for satisfaction are many and profound.”
— Douglas Adams
You have to find your opportunities for satisfaction wherever you can, and there is no satisfaction quite like sandwich satisfaction. Sandwhisfaction, if you will.
When you’re really feeling that sandwich shaped void in your life, a Tip Top multigrain ham & cheese sanger just isn’t going to cut it, even if you get all fancy with prosciutto and brie. You need to aim higher. You need to aim bigger. You need to jazz it up, baby. There’s only one thing for it – we have to head to New Orleans.
It is said that in the early 1900s the Sicilian immigrant farmers of New Orleans would congregate at lunch time at the French Quarter’s Italian market, called Central Grocery and owned by Salvatore Lupo (perhaps they were hungry like the wolf? Oh I kill myself).The farmers would order some meats, cheese, olive salad and round muffuletta bread, then precariously balance their lunch bounty on their laps while eating the components separately in typical Sicilian fashion.
Signore Lupo suggested that the men would find it easier to eat their lunch by instead placing the components into the bread, and despite this going against the Sicilian way of eating, they were soon taking up his advice. I guess there’s only so much you can take of soggy salami knees and picking bits of dirt off your cheese after it’s taken a tumble. It wasn’t long before the farmers simply starting asking Salvatore for a “muffuletta” for their lunch.
The muffuletta is pronounced either “moof-fuh-LEHT-tuh” or “muff-uh-LOT-uh”, Sicilian accent optional, and is also called a “muff” for short. Yep. There is way too much low hanging fruit on this tree of inappropriate comments.
Your standard muff consists of a round cob loaf filled with antipasti style fillings, typically salami, ham, cheeses and a thick layer of an “olive salad” mixture. Really though, there is no need to restrict yourself to these ingredients, and in my efforts to attain true sandwhisfaction I thought it necessary to take it up a notch. I present to you my Muff of Satisfaction.
Muff of Satisfaction
Note: For best results, begin this a few hours to a day before you wish to serve it
- Round muffuletta or cob loaf
- Pesto of your choice (I used a basil pesto) and/or olive tapenade (I used black olive tapenade)
- Half a medium eggplant
- 2 red capsicum (peppers)
- Honey ham, sliced Turkey and salami – 3 slices each
- 200 g marinated mushrooms, sliced in half
- 100 g fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 150 g semi sundried tomatoes
- 100 g stuffed olives, sliced in half
Note: this is just what I used in this instance, you can obviously use whatever antipasto you want, and the amounts will depend on how large your loaf is and how many layers of each ingredient you want to make.
1. Roast and peel the capsicum. In this instance I did this by cutting up the capsicum into ~4 large flat pieces each, then laying these skin side up on a tray and placing under a hot grill under the skin blackened. I then placed them in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap for a few minutes before peeling off the skins. Leave to cool.
2. Slice the eggplant into ~1 cm round slices and bake until soft. This took me around 30 minutes at 190 degrees. Leave to cool.
3. Slice the top off the loaf, keeping the “lid”, then scoop out most of the inner bread to leave a shell of a few centimetres. Keep the inner bread to make croutons/breadcrumbs/stuffing with.
Note: If your bread is as delicious as my pumpkin cob then this step is very difficult as you feel terrible about desecrating such a lovely loaf of bread whilst also fighting a strong urge to park up with the inner scoopings and a tub of butter.
4. Spread the pesto and/or tapenade over the interior of the loaf. I spread the pesto over the lower portion and the tapenade over the interior of the “lid”.
Note: If your loaf is as substantial as mine, I’d recommend being somewhat generous with this step – I wished I had used more pesto to soften the heaviness of the bread.
5. If you’re using marinated/preserved ingredients you need to dry them out a little before placing them in the muff so it’s not too soggy. Paper towel comes in handy for this.
6. Build your muff in layers, pressing each one down as you go until you reach the top. In this instance I went for: turkey, eggplant, mushrooms, capsicum, ham, mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, salami, eggplant, mozzarella, capsicum. I also made a vegetarian one with artichokes as well.
7. Wrap the muff up tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. You can also place a heavy board on top to help press the sandwich together, though I didn’t do that this time.
8. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice into four quarters, making sure to hold it together during the second cut so that you don’t have any bits trying to escape. The ones I made today were for a picnic with LOTS of other food, so I actually cut them into 8, as even an eighth is a substantial amount of food – it took a bit of patience and care to ensure the smaller wedges maintained all their layers during the slicing.