For the rest of us, there's that sick feeling of having to wait too many long, long months for football season to start. 214 days from now. Sigh.
But, for those lucky enough to be in New Orleans, this is the week before Mardi Gras and the parades are in full swing. There's still plenty of King Cake to eat and plenty of revelry to take part in, and there's no excuse for not going to Central Grocery for a Muffuletta.
Because one thing is for sure: a Muffuletta can make everyone feel a lot better.
A Muffuletta (pronounced muff-uh-LOT-uh) is a New Orleans sandwich made famous by Central Grocery, a little Italian market on Decatur Street, on the edge of the French Quarter. If you're anywhere in New Orleans (or, in close proximity) you're not about to make your own Muffuletta--you're going to go to Central Grocery and get one. But, for those of us nowhere near Decatur Street, here's a recipe that makes a pretty authentic version.
Make one for yourself to eat; you'll feel better.
One large round loaf of Italian rustic bread (seeded if you can find it)
1/2 to 3/4 pound of thinly sliced mortadella
1/2 to 3/4 pound of thinly sliced ham
1/2 to 3/4 pound of thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/2 to 3/4 pound of thinly sliced provolone cheese
1/2 to 3/4 pound of thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
Olive salad (recipe follows)
Slice loaf of bread in half horizontally. From the round inside top, pick out as much of the bread dough as possible, leaving a thin layer of dough, but making a nice hollow. This is where your delicious olive salad is going to go.
Brush a little olive oil on the cut sides of bread. Begin layering your meats and cheese, starting with the meats and ending with the cheese.
Put a layer of olive salad on the top and final layer of the cheese. Top with the bread round and push down to flatten the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich tightly in aluminum foil and put into a preheated and hot 350º oven. Bake until cheese in melted.
Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes. Cut into 4 pieces. Serve with additional olive salad and icy cold Barq's Root Beer.
This sandwich makes enough for two people, but if you're having a particularly bad day, you should eat the whole thing yourself.
This is what makes a Muffuletta a Muffuletta.
1 jar green pimento olives, drained and coarsely chopped
1 jar black olives, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup of capers, drained
1 small jar of pepperonchini, drained and coarsely chopped
1 small jar of pickled cocktail onions, drained and coarsely chopped
1 jar of Giandiniera, with cauliflower and carrots; drained
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1/2 cup of flat leaf Italian parsley, cleaned, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 Tablespoons of oregano
2 Tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tablespoon of finely ground Kosher salt
Red Wine Vinegar
Toss all ingredients except oils and vinegar into a bowl. Mix well so that ingredients are evenly distributed. Drizzle with a few Tablespoons of red wine vinegar; mix. Dress liberally with an even mix of the olive and vegetable oil. Spoon into a large glass jar and let marinate, at room temperature for 6-8 hours before using.