Filled Focaccia AKA Muffaletta
The original New Orleans Muffaletta is made with their signature olive salad and bread made especially for this unique sandwich. The bread in this recipe comes from "Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy". The bread is baked in a wood oven that is hard to replicate in the home kitchen. Baking the breads in a cast-iron skillet gives nice results. What I would give for a wood burning oven!!!
If you don't want to make the focaccia, get some fresh, crispy rolls and warm them in the oven.
For the Focaccia:
1 package active dry yeast
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl and let sit for several minutes, until it starts to bubble. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Combine the dissolved yeast with 1 cup of warm water and add to the flour along with the olive oil. You can make this in the food processor, but I did it by hand and it came together very easily. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute into a smooth round. Put it in a large, oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
Put rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat it to 450 degrees F. Deflate the risen dough and cut it in half. Flatten each piece into a round about 9 inches in diameter and lay in a cast-iron skillet. (If you only have one skillet, put one piece of dough back in the oiled bowl, covered while you bake the first piece.
Bake about 20 minutes until light brown on top. Turn out to cool on a wire rack.
1-1/2 cups pimento-stuffed olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (optional)
1 cup giardiniera (Italian pickled salad)
2 pepperoncinis, chopped
1 Tbsp. capers chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. fresh italian parsley chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste.
The Muffaletta olive salad is the most important ingredient in this delicious sandwich. It's a vinegar and garlic lover's dream (that's me). You can add or omit whatever you like in this salad, just be sure to include the olives. I had a few pickled banana peppers and some roasted red peppers in the fridge and added them as well. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate overnight, if possible.
Split focaccia in half and add a generous layer of olive salad.
Top with your favorite deli meats (have them sliced super thin.
I did provolone, genoa salami, ham and mortadella.
Top with the remainder of the olive salad including any juice left.
This sandwich is better when it sits for a while for the bread to absorb all those delicious juices from the olive salad.
~Adapted fro Lidia cooks from the heart of Italy
and The Traditional New Orleans Muffaletta