The 3 Cold Cuts Required When Making Muffulettas

We love a good muffuletta sandwich. The classic New Orleans invention of Italian cold cuts, cheese, and relish isn't so complicated that you can't make it at home. To help you along, here's the cardinal rule for selecting the three required deli meats: pick one that is cured, one that is coarse and cured, and one that is emulsified. Luckily, each type gives you many options to choose from. Just make sure all of them are very thinly sliced.

Under cured meats, your options are: prosciutto, the cured hind-leg ham dating from Roman times; coppa (or capicola), a dry-cured and marbled salami cut from the pig's shoulder; and speck, a smoked ham from the northeast Italian province of South Tyrol. 

For coarse and cured, you'll want to choose between sopressa and hot or sweet soppressata (both pressed meats from Italy's north and south, respectively), a cured sausage like salami, or the traditional pizza topping of pepperoni. The last muffuletta cold cut category are meats that have been emulsified, or made from a paste. These include bologna and it's hipper cousin mortadella. Both cuts have a smooth, rich mouthfeel.

The other ingredients for the perfect muffuletta

Now that you've chosen the meat for your muffuletta, what other ingredients do you need? Just a few things: a soft, yet sturdy Italian bread like ciabatta smothered with a good, briny olive salad featuring julienned veggies, as well as kalamata and pimiento-stuffed olives. You'll also need more than a few slices of a creamy Italian cheese like provolone or mozzarella. 

There is one last ingredient to the perfect muffuletta, and it's perhaps the most important: Time. You must let your sandwich sit for a good spell — we recommend refrigerating the sandwich overnight in a plastic bag — to let its wonderful flavors combine and develop. Give it at least an hour, or you'll miss out on the magic. 

Once your muffuletta has matured, make sure you press it under a weight. We like to place the sandwich upside down on a baking tray and put a heavy cast iron skillet on top. This compression will really blend the olive oil and brine lurking inside your layered creation, bringing it all magnificently together. Behold the star of your next picnic.