Fat Tuesday. ..Let The Good Times Roll
Things won’t be the usual boisterous and outrageous costumed party for Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. What Mardi Gras needs in a pandemic is a muffuletta, a line backer size sandwich stuffed with Italian cured meats and cheeses. Some say the sandwich originated in New Orleans and it may be that Sicilian immigrants, of which New Orleans has a lot, introduced this hefty sandwich. One wide mouth bite will put you in a good mood and serve as a reminder that the good times will roll again.
1 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted
1 cup green olives in brine, drained and pitted
2/3 cup sliced fennel bulb
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 small sweet red pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh basil, flat-leaf parsley, and fennel leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt to taste
One 2 pound boule ( round loaf) sourdough bread
Meat and Cheese Filling
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma
1/3 pound thinly sliced capicolla
1/2 pound fresh or packaged mozzarella, sliced
1/2 pound thinly sliced provolone
Put the olives, fennel bulb, marinated artichokes, and pepper strips, in a food processor and coarsely chop. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the garlic, chopped herbs, and olive oil. Blend well and season with salt. Cover the bowl and set aside to marinate for several hours.
With a bread knife, cut a 1/2 inch thick lid off the top of the bread and set aside. With your fingers, pull out the interior crumb of the bread, leaving about a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Reserve the inside crumbs of the bread for another use such as bread crumbs.
Spread half the marinated salad ingredients evenly in the bottom of the bread shell. Layer the meats and cheeses alternately on top of the salad. Spread the remaining salad over the top. Replace the bread lid. Wrap the bread tightly in aluminum foil. Place a heavy weight such as a cast-iron skillet or two clean bricks on top of the bread and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours or, even better, overnight.
1 hour before serving, remove the foil and place the muffuletta on a serving plate. With a bread knife, cut it into wedges while it is still cold (this will ensure neatly cut wedges). Let come to room temperature before serving.