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Muffaletta

Are you wondering what to serve up for Superbowl Sunday? Admittedly, the pandemic has scaled back everyone’s plans, and you might not be gathering in a large group. But just in case you’ve got your own pandemic bubble to feed, or even if you want to make this and give some to neighbors, this sandwich is always a hit.

It’s said to have been created by Italian immigrants in New Orleans. However, many years ago, I was reading a classic Italian book called “Il Gattopardo” and surprisingly came upon a reference to it, when the protagonist, a prince, is on a hunting excursion with the local church organist. “Bevevano il vino tiepido delle borracce di legno, accompagnavano un pollo arrosto venuto fuori dal carniere di Don Fabrizio con i soavissimi muffoletti cosparsi di farina cruda che don Ciccio aveva portato con se.” In English, the title translates to “The Leopard” and the text is as follows: “They drank tepid wine from wooden bottles with a roast chicken from Don Fabrizio’s haversack, with the sweet muffoletti dusted with raw flour which Don Ciccio had brought with him.” If you haven’t read the book, it deals with the changes in Sicilian society during the risorgimento — Italy’s unification movement. It’s one of the most important novels in modern Italian literature and is widely translated in many languages, including English. It was even made into an excellent movie with Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale.

But I digress. Back to the muffaletta as we know it, which many say was first made here in the U.S. at Central Grocery Co. on Decatur Street in New Orleans by Salvatore Lupo, an immigrant from Sicily. My son-in-law and his wife, who live in New Orleans, sent us a jar of olive salad last year from Central Grocery, so naturally we needed to follow through and make our own muffuletta. This jar made enough for two muffaletta sandwiches. If you can’t find olive salad at a store near you, you can even order it from Central Grocery here or even from Amazon, here. 

I added some other ingredients to the olive salad, including fresh celery, parsley, marinated artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers. You can choose to add more or less of whatever you like. There are no rules.

Aside from the olive salad, you need good bread, Italian cold cuts, and cheese.  A muffaletta is traditionally made with a round loaf, and in fact, I’ve made it in the past with a round loaf as you see below. I used mortadella, Genoa salami, coppa and capicolla, but a finocchiona, prosciutto or soppressata would be delicious here too. I used provolone cheese, but feel free to choose fontina, mozzarella or whatever floats your boat.

You can break with tradition and use a long ciabatta loaf instead of a round one, as I did the last time I made it. My local bread shop had a great assortment.

I came home with this beauty and sliced it in half lengthwise.

I scooped out some of the insides, but you can leave as much or as little interior bread as you like. Then I spread some of the olive salad on the bread.

I added a layer of the meats and cheese, then more olive salad, another layer of the meats and cheeses, finishing off with the olive salad next to the bread.

You’ll need to weigh it down with something heavy, so I covered both sides with parchment paper and placed a heavy cast iron grill pan on top. It went into the refrigerator for at least two hours. You can leave it even longer, but if you keep it weighed down in the refrigerator overnight, you risk getting the bread too soggy from the olive salad.

Last year I took it to my cousin’s Superbowl Party and the ciabatta sliced up easily into at least ten generous pieces.

Or just enjoy Super-Bowl size portions with your own small family.

Click here to connect with me on Instagram and find out what’s cooking in Ciao Chow Linda’s kitchen each day (and more)

Muffaletta
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large round loaf, or long ciabatta
  • ¼ lb. of Genoa salami
  • ¼ lb. of capocollo
  • ¼ lb. mortadella
  • ¼ lb. of coppa
  • (orr use any combination of Itaian cold cuts you want, including soppressata, finocchiona, prosciutto etc.)
  • ¾ lb. provolone cheese (or fontina or mozzarella)
  • 1 jar of olive salad
  • POSSIBLE ADDITIONS TO THE SALAD:
  • ¼ cup sliced celery
  • 1 small jar of artichoke hearts, chopped
  • roasted red peppers, chopped
  • a few tablespoons minced parsley
  • chopped up jarred giardiniera
Instructions
  1. Slice the bread lengthwise and scoop out some of the interior bread.
  2. Mix the add-ons you like to the jarred olive salad, and spread some of it on the bottom of the bread.
  3. Add a layer of each of the sliced meats, a layer of cheese, more of the olive salad.
  4. Repeat with the meats and cheese, ending up with the olive salad.
  5. Cover with the top portion of the bread, then place some parchment paper, or plastic wrap on top.
  6. Press down with a heavy weight and refrigerate at least two hours to compact the sandwich and blend flavors.
  7. Be careful not to leave it pressed more than six or eight hours or the bread may become too soggy.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Drum Roll For Timpano!

 

To my readers: I’m ceding the Ciao Chow Linda reins this week to my son Michael, a journalist who also knows his way around the kitchen.  He’s made this dish several times in the past few years, and with the Super Bowl fast approaching, he agreed to write about it for my readers. It’s an ambitious project no doubt, but gather some friends and work on it together, then sit back and watch the big game on Sunday. 

From Michael:

My friend Garrett and I first heard about the timpano when watching the film Big Night, starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as two brothers who own a restaurant in the 1950s in New Jersey. The “big night” in question is a magnificent dinner prepared in anticipation of Louis Prima, the main course of which is the timpano.

We watched with amazement as the two brothers unveiled this showstopper of a dish, a large “drum” of pasta filled with ziti, meatballs, provolone, mozzarella, hardboiled eggs, salami, and tomato sauce. It’s not a dish for the faint of heart. Literally.

After seeing it on screen, we knew we had to recreate it in person. Garrett found the recipe in Stanley Tucci’s cookbook, which we then adapted a bit. You can add in meats and cheeses as you see fit.

The timpano is baked inside a large ceramic or metal pot; when it’s time to serve, you flip the pot over so that the timpano slides out, much like an upside-down cake. When it works, it’s impressive. When it doesn’t, it’s disastrous. If any sticks to the pot, the whole thing will disintegrate, leaving you with a delicious mess.

Another word of warning: A full-size timpano is enough to feed an army. We made one for the Super Bowl, and even with 20 people over (and helping themselves to seconds), we still had half of it left by the time the Eagles beat the Patriots last year.

This recipe calls for a bowl that’s about 6-8 inches deep and about 12 – 14 inches in diameter. Obviously, if you use a smaller or a larger bowl, the amount of stuff you’ll need to fill it will change. You could conceivably use a casserole dish, too.

While this recipe isn’t overly complicated, it involves a number of steps, so it will take some time. 

You’ll need a large table or pasta board for rolling out the dough. This pasta board belonged to my paternal grandmother, and is probably at least 75 years old. The wide strips of dough are pinched together to make one large piece of dough that becomes the outer shell of the timpano.

Be sure to have all the ingredients ready to go before you start assembling the timpano.

The ziti is tossed with tomato sauce and placed into the dough-lined bowl. Be sure to undercook the ziti, since it will bake more in the oven.

Top with half of the eggs, meatballs, mozzarella, salami and provolone. Add sauce on top, then more pasta and repeat with the other ingredients, finishing up with sauce. Pour the beaten eggs over everything.

Cover the bowl with the pasta that’s hanging off the side, making sure the timpano is completely sealed. Trim the excess dough and place in the oven, following the directions below.

After letting it rest for 30 minutes, flip it out of the bowl and you’re ready for the reward. All you need is a good glass of wine and a salad and you have enough to feed an entire football team.

 brioschi optional.

Brioschi Effervescent 8.5oz Bottle The Original Lemon Flavored Italian Effervescent

Timpano
 
A huge pasta and meat filled extravaganza fit for a crowd.
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: feeds multitudes
Ingredients
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 2 cups genoa salami, cut into ¼-inch to ½-inch cubes
  • 2 cups sharp provolone cheese, cut into ¼-inch to ½-inch cubes
  • 8-10 hard-boiled eggs, quartered lengthwise, then
  • cut in half
  • About two dozen little meatballs ½ inch in diameter
  • 8 cups spaghetti sauce (not too thick)
  • 3 lbs ziti pasta, cooked very al dente (you’ll probably end up with plenty of extra ziti)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2⁄3 cup pecorino romano cheese, finely grated
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup water
Instructions
  1. THE DAY BEFORE:
  2. Make about two dozen meatballs; they should each be the size of a grape tomato.
  3. Have the tomato sauce ready.
  4. It should be room temperature.
  5. Make the hardboiled eggs.
  6. THE DAY OF:
  7. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Boil the ziti.
  9. It should be on the harder side of al dente, as it will cook more in the oven.
  10. Thoroughly grease the inside of the bowl you plan to use for the timpano.
  11. While the ziti is cooking, roll out the pasta dough to the thinnest possible setting.
  12. Take the strips and lay them next to each other lengthwise so that their edges are touching, and seal them together to make one large sheet. You’ll want it to be big enough so that it not only completely lines the bowl, but that there’s enough overhang to completely cover the middle of the bowl.
  13. Carefully take the sheet of pasta and line the bowl. There should be a lot of overhang.
  14. Toss the drained pasta with two cups of sauce.
  15. Pour about 6-7 cups of pasta into the bottom of the timpano.
  16. Top with half of the salami, provolone, eggs, meatballs, and cheese.
  17. Pour another two cups of sauce on top.
  18. Pour in another 6 cups of the pasta.
  19. Add the rest of the salami, cheese, meatballs, and eggs.
  20. Top all that with the remaining sauce and pasta, so that it comes to nearly the top of the bowl.
  21. Pour the beaten eggs into the bowl, making sure to distribute them evenly.
  22. Fold over the dough and seal it completely.
  23. Trim away any excess dough.
  24. Bake for about 1 hour until the top is lightly browned.
  25. Cover with aluminum foil and bake another 30 minutes or so until the internal temperature is 120 degrees.
  26. Remove from the oven and let rest 30 minutes.
  27. At this point, the timpano should be able to move freely; try shaking the bowl clockwise and counterclockwise gently to see if it moves.
  28. Now the fun part: Get a large pan or dish (one that covers the entire diameter of the bowl), and place it on top of the bowl. Holding the two tightly together, flip the bowl upside down.
  29. Carefully lift the bowl. The timpano should come out cleanly.
  30. Let the timpano rest for another 30 minutes, then use a long thin knife to slice it like a cake.