A Crescent City SandwichJanuary 31, 2013
Donald Link, head chef at New Orleans butcher shop and restaurant Cochon Butcher, is a man who takes his sandwiches seriously. Particularly close to his heart is the muffuletta (moof-uh-leh-ta), a massive sandwich of meat, cheese, and tangy vegetable relish on a round sesame roll that has been a cornerstone of Crescent City cuisine for more than a century.
“I have two problems with most muffulettas," he says. "They have too much bread, and the meat is cheap.” Link opened Butcher with the goal of making the best muffuletta in New Orleans, a goal akin to that of making the best cheese steak in Philly, or the best crab cake in Baltimore. Prioritizing quality, Link and his team built their sandwich with meat cured in-house, fresh giardiniera, and bread from a favorite local bakery.
Though Cochon Butcher may not have the history of, say, Central Grocery, where the muffuletta was invented in 1906, Link's well-crafted take on the sandwich has earned raves from customers and critics alike. And you don't need to go all the way to Louisiana to try it. With his recipe, you can bring a hearty taste of New Orleans to your game-day festivities.
Cochon Butcher Muffuletta
Serves 1–2 people
Muffuletta bread, 5-inches in diameter, cut horizontally*
1-2 tbsp. Cochon giardiniera (recipe below)
2 oz. capicola or ham, sliced
2 oz. mortadella, sliced
1 oz. salami, sliced
1 oz. provolone, sliced
Spread each half of bread with giardiniera. Layer with capicola, then mortadella, then salami, then provolone. For a hot muffuletta, place closed sandwich in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes. Let sit if possible, to allow the juices from the giardiniera to soak into the bread, then serve whole, cut in half, or in four triangle-shaped pieces.
*Link buys his bread from John Gendusa Bakery. Check your local bakery, try making your own, or substitute another hearty Italian bread.
makes five cups
1 bay leaf
5 tsp. black peppercorns
1 cup white vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. oregano
1 ½ cups cauliflower florets
1 carrot, small, cut in 1/8-inch slices
½ onion, small, cut in 1/8-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 stalks celery, cut in 1/2-inch slices
½ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, roughly chopped
¼ cup pepperoncini
Toast bay leaf and peppercorns in a hot skillet until aromatic. In a pot, combine vinegar, olive oil salt, sugar, pepper flake and oregano and bring to a simmer. Add bay leaf and peppercorns, steep 5 minutes, and strain.
Place vegetables in a 1-gallon container. Pour liquid over vegetables and let sit for two days before using. Strain and discard liquid. Puree vegetables.