For Tastier Muffuletta Sandwiches, Store Them Longer Before You Eat

A sandwich is a medley of ingredients that are together, but separate, right? Different elements bring different flavors and textures, from hot and cold to crunchy and soft, that remain distinct. So, when it comes to building a sandwich, the concept of letting a creation rest before serving may seem counterintuitive. After all, the typical approach is to assemble a sandwich quickly and devour it while it's fresh. However, when it comes to the mighty muffuletta, a classic sandwich that showcases Italian-American influence on our national palate, patience is indeed a virtue. This iconic creation from New Orleans deserves to be treated with a bit of restraint before indulging in its delectable flavors.

At the heart of the matter lies the unique composition of the muffuletta. Unlike many sandwiches that rely solely on the freshness of their ingredients, the muffuletta's magic lies in its ability to allow its many components to meld together over time. The layers of punchy Italian cured meats, tangy provolone cheese, and vibrant olive salad are carefully nestled within a focaccia-like sesame seed roll. By allowing the sandwich to rest in the refrigerator, these ingredients have the opportunity to exude their flavorful oils, infusing the bread with an unmatched depth of taste.

Stack it up and wait

To build the perfect muffuletta, cut open your roll and spread a thick layer of olive salad over the bottom half. This ensures that every bite is packed with the briny goodness of olives, crunchy vegetables, rich oil, and fragrant herbs. However, because you're going to store your sandwich before eating, make sure the salad isn't wet with brine, or excessively oily. You can use kitchen paper to absorb excess liquid before putting it on your sandwich. Next, layer on the Italian cured meats generously. Classics like hot soppressata, cured ham, and mortadella are traditional choices that provide similar, yet slightly contrasting savory flavors. Next, add slices of provolone cheese — if you can find aged provolone from Italy, all the better — to provide a creamy contrast to the rich meats. 

Once the sandwich is assembled, it's time to let it rest. Wrap the muffuletta tightly in plastic wrap, ensuring that it is snugly secured. This keeps the exterior of the sandwich from drying out, while gently compressing it to allow the layers to meld with each other and the bread. Place the wrapped sandwich in the refrigerator and let it rest for a few hours or overnight.

When you're ready to serve your magnificent muffuletta, remove it from the plastic and cut into traditional wedges. Your patience will have been rewarded with a sandwich that is more than the sum of its parts, bold, vibrant, and homogenized in just the right way.