Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Non-traditional Belle Muffuletta Recipe

New Orleans is known for many things, but one of them is a sandwich called a Muffuletta.  I have never enjoyed it because, for me, it has ham on it and that just does it in for me.  So when I made my husband his first one, I had to keep the spirit of the sandwich but change up some of the ingredients.  Since he loved it and I truly enjoyed making it - I'll be adding it to the family repertoire.

It's complicated, I won't lie - but it's SO good...

The Non-traditional Belle Muffuletta begins with preparing your pork loin for slicing so lets start with THAT recipe...

Pork Loin in Crockpot:
Line the bottom of the crockpot with finely chopped onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, and 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock.  Add in salt and pepper and a dash of red wine (sorry never measure this, so maybe 1/8th of a cup?)  Set crock pot to high for 30 minutes and let it go while you prep the rest.
In a dish, set your trimmed pork loin (removing the extra fat is worth the effort UNLESS you’re going to stuff the pork loin – which we aren’t this time – so get to trimming) in the center and baste with mustard mix.

Mustard mix:  1 cup mustard of choice, ½ cup of jam of choice, ¼ cup of barbecue OR worstershire sauce
I know it sounds weird but it’s the right amount of sweet and sour without adding any oils and infuses a ton of flavor into the meat.  I like gourmet mustards and jams so I can change the flavor of the meat every time, just by playing around with these….
Now that it’s basted, I like to crust it with freshly ground pepper, herbs de provence OR Italian seasoning herbs.  By now, the base should be at a nice simmer.  The onions should be close to transparent – that’s how you know it’s cooking well but not too far along.

Put the pork loin on the bed of seasoning cooking in the crock pot.  Put the lid back on and cook on low for 2 hours.  At that point, baste with the mixed juices at the base of the crock pot (there will be less than you think), put the lid back on and cook on high for roughly one hour.  (The size of the pork loin makes this number hit or miss.)
You’re looking for the point where not only is the outer layer browning, but the meat is so tender it’s able to be cut with a fork.
Once that’s done, it’s ready to rest (still in the crock put but outside of the base on a trivet) for 20 minutes.

After resting, place the meat on a platter and slice.  It may slice in hunks (or like mine did above, shred) instead of neat deli slices, but that’s perfect for the muffuletta!  This is the long drawn out part of the sandwich because I have yet to find the pork I prefer to use already cooked – and I don’t like ham… at all… sorry y’all.
Now, on to the sandwich…
The Non-traditional Belle Muffuletta

Sliced pork loin
Sliced Rotisserie chicken breast
(Optional) Sliced thin cooked Andouille sausage
(Optional) Crispy Turkey bacon
Fresh spinach leaves
(Optional) Fresh romaine leaves
sliced pepper jack cheese
sliced mozzarella
sliced provolone
sliced Pepperoncini , Olives, Pickles and cherry tomatoes OR
a jar of Giardiniera Italian marinated vegetables, chopped
Butter (to spread)
French Loaf (Italian Loaf will do in a pinch, but the bread won’t have the crunch that’s best)

Preparation in reverse of ingredient list:
Warm or lightly toast the bread.  Thinly spread the butter on the bread, quickly followed by the mustard and vegetables.  You want those flavors to soak into the bread.  Layer on pork, then sausage, then both cheeses, then chicken.  Top with a thin layer of spinach leaves and two leaves of romaine (basically one for each half of the sandwich).  If you’re adding bacon, this is where the bacon comes in (so it doesn’t get muddled in with the other meat flavors.  Close the sandwich (this may take effort) and bind, if you can. 

I like the idea of preparing it on plastic or foil and closing up the sandwich tightly in that for about 15 minutes.  You could try holding it closed with string or toothpicks, but this other method is easier.  This is a sandwich that excels as all the flavors blend on the bread.  The tang of the olives and mustard will be tempered by the thick bread, meats and cheeses. 

 If you really like it spicy, you could add a dash or two of sriracha to your pork but I find hot sauce on the sandwich can mar the blend of spices.  You could do a dash or two of cayenne more safely, I think.  It's a big sandwich.  You're supposed to cut it in half then cut those pieces in halves and serve it in small chunks.

Good luck with that... I recommend you make 2 or more at a time. You should have enough and it only gets better with resting time.


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