I had never had a muffaletta sandwich before I had gone to visit my friend Karen in New Orleans some time last century (late 1980’s lol) and it was love at first bite. The muffaletta, if you are not familiar, is everything that is right about a deli sandwich – stacks of sliced deli meats typically including mortadella, a couple types of salami, ham, perhaps some pepperoni and a few slices of Provolone cheese.
What sets the muffaletta apart from the usual hoagie or grinder is that it smothered with an amazing olive salad. Green and black olives are chopped up with Italian pickled giardiniera, garlic, roasted red peppers and other goodies to make the perfect acidic foil to all of the rich deli meat and cheese. I make this olive salad every once in a while to have on hand for a week and spoon it over any grilled meats, birds, seafood, grilled vegetables, scrambled eggs, mix into tuna salad or toss with a simple green salad… it’s a little addictive.
To make things simple, you can just grill up some cheese burgers add some deli meats and top with the olive salad and it would be yummy. That’s not what we’re gonna do. I’m a big fan of really good mortadella and didn’t want to loose it in this sandwich. I was afraid the flavor of the mortadella would get lost paired with a beef patty. I made a 50/50 blend of ground chuck with ground pork (not the extra lean) both of which were 15% fat. I referenced my charcuterie books and seasoned the meat blend similarly to mortadella (minus the pistachios). I encourage you to go the extra step, because this thing is da bomb!
makes four to six
1 pound ground beef (85/15)
1 pound ground pork (85/15), not extra lean
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper or finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg (optional)
Sliced Provolone cheese
Sliced Black Forest ham
Sliced pepperoni, salami, or spicy salami
Toasted ciabatta buns
New Orleans Olive Salad (recipe follows)
Method: Direct heat
Crumble ground beef and pork into a large mixing bowl. Lightly toss to mix. Place peppercorns on a cutting board and press down on them using a heavy-bottom pot to coarsely crack. Put cracked peppercorns in a small bowl and stir remaining seasonings, except salt, until well-blended. Add half of the spice blend to the meat and gently toss to mix. Add remaining spices and divide meat into 6 even amounts. Form into balls and press into patties.
Set up grill for direct cooking over medium-high to high heat. Brush and oil grates before cooking. Grill burgers on hot grill for 4 to 6 minutes per side until firm to the touch (not hard) and the juices run clear. Top with a slice of provolone cheese during the final minute of cooking. Since these burgers contain ground pork, the internal temperature of the burgers should be 155°F to 160°F before removing from the grill. Let rest, tented with foil for 5 minutes before serving.
While burgers rest, toast the buns and then generously spread the bottom bun with olive salad. Top with slices of ham and salami, maybe another slice of cheese 😉 and the burger. Add another big spoonful of spread, sliced pepperoncini, and top with the bun… Enjoy!!!
New Orleans Olive Salad
makes 3 1/2 cups
1 cup Italian giardiniera (pickled cauliflower, carrots, celery, pepperoncini)
1 cup stuffed Spanish olives
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives (or small black olives)
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Add giardiniera (break apart cauliflower florets when measuring), olives, red pepper and garlic to a bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is 1/4- to 1/2-inch chopped. Transfer to a large bowls and stir in remaining ingredients. Will keep covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!