The immortal MC Skat Kat was right, opposites attract!
Did the cat really need to rap?
We had a Super Bowl party at the homestead Sunday night, and when I was prepping I had this song in my head. Double S and I were doing the food, while growandresist and her awesome ladyfriend provided that from which we imbibed. Hurricanes. REALLY boozy ones. Made us wish it wasn’t a Sunday night. Ahem. Anyway, I decided to go the obvious route when it came to theme and made a New Orleans inspired sandwich, the muffuletta. In the Briggsy family, we’ve been enjoying these since Mom and Pop went to New Orleans back in 1990. Pop came home enamored with Central Grocery’s muffulettas and their legendary olive salad. Since then my Pop, ever the 80s and early 90s proto-foodie, has been trying to recreate the salad. He thinks his is better than Central’s. Having never been there, I’d say that his is awesome. So I decided to emulate it, and to use local ingredients wherever possible.
Salami–about 1/4 pound
Ham–about 1/4 pound
Provolone–about 1/3 of a pound
Fresh Mozzarella–3-5 of the larger fresh balls of mozzarella
Focaccia or other similar round, fairly thin good bread. I made two sandwiches, but you could make one sandwich piled very high.
First, I went to The Swinery, Seattle’s first sustainable butcher and meat shop. And it’s in my ‘nabe. Score!
The Swinery has a commitment to buy meat raised within 300 miles of Seattle, and buys whole animals over boxed (and thus unknown) meat pieces, and buying from small farms over large corporate agribusiness. We’ve grilled their ground beef, and it was truly bananas. Best burger I’ve ever grilled. For the party, I purchased salami and prosciutto. For sandwiches for four, I bought about a quarter of a pound of each meat, you could use more if you’re a bigger meat lover.
Pops usually uses provolone and fresh mozzarella to cheese up the muffuletta. I did the same. I used about 3-5 of the larger sized balls of fresh mozzarella. Sliced thin.
For bread, my Pops would usually purchase Asiago focaccia from here, which I will always call St. Louis Bread Company. I’ve always thought there’s room for improvement, so I got a ciabatta from Essential Bakery here in Seattle, after not being able to find exactly what I wanted at the Farmer’s Market.
Then to make the olive salad. Growandresist and her lady are awesome, but they don’t like olives. What the eff? I know! So I made one olive salad sans olives and one olive salad the old-fashioned way. Here’s how I did it-thanks Pops for answering my emails! He’s getting better at the all caps thing, he promises!
Ingredients for Briggsy Family Olive Salad (by way of Central Grocery):
- Garlic. Chop it up fine. Use as much as you see fit. I probably used about 6-8 cloves for 2 large sandwiches, It must have been mild garlic though, because I didn’t taste it as strongly as I usually do. Taste it and see how you like it. This should be a garlicky sandwich,
- The best green olives you can get. In St. Louis, you’d go here–we went here. For the first time. It was like the pearly gates opened when we walked in. Spices in white buckets, 00 flour–they were out of it, but still, you don’t find that very often and it’s needed for good pizza crusts and breads.
Christ on a cracker, how have I not been here before? Olives in barrels (and free barrels in the back, if you’re a barrel heard, like I am. Come on! You can use them in the garden, and to pickle and mix and make various potions. Get ’em!)
- Giardiniera. Holy crap I have a mental block spelling that! It’s not giardia, ok! I was hoping to be able to get this in bulk in the buckets, but denied. I got this kind, which was too heavy on the cauliflower. Chop it up nice and fine, so it’s less likely to fall off of the sandwich.
- The best olive oil you can get.
1. Mix all of the above ingredients and let it sit, the longer the better. I let mine sit overnight in the fridge.
2. When you’re ready to prepare the sandwiches, cut your focaccia in half, and drizzle both inner sides with your good olive oil.
3. Then add your meats and cheeses in layers. Put the olive salad on at some point, either at the top or in one of the middle layers.
4. Put bread top on, press down, and let it sit and meld. Covering it with a heavy cast iron helps it commingle. Oh, yes! Let it sit like this for a few hours before you eat it.
5. Serve at room temperature. Some restaurants toast it. Do not toast it.
This was delicious. Even better the next day for lunch. I wouldn’t use a ciabatta again. Do try to get a round bread or a focaccia. You want the bread to be thinner than a ciabatta. Also, don’t skimp too much on the olive oil. This is supposed to be a sandwich’s sandwich.
So besides this tribute to sustainability and small local businesses, I had to have some food of my youth. Oh, dips…how are you so tasty and so meaningful to my backstory?
I grew up surrounded by dips. You name the holiday, we had dips. Christmas Eve is a veritable dip fest for the Briggsys…no roast goose for this family! Some of the family dips are better than others, but come every December 24th, best believe I’m dippin’ and chippin’. These dips would intermittently be paraded out at other key times: first communions, confirmations (it was St. Louis, perhaps the most Catholic city in the US?), 4th of Julys, Easters, graduations. Double S got quite the dowry with my dip recipe collection. Usually makes her sing this:
OK, just the chorus. How about a round of applause for that late 90s dancing robot?! Very advanced…
The legacy of this Briggsy family tradition is that now I take any opportunity to trot out my family dips for pals, friends, party guests and johnny come latelys. Dill dip, onion dip, shrimp dip (better than it sounds!), individual cheese balls, artichoke parmesan dip, and so on. So I decided to make some good old-fashioned dill dip, at least that’s what we call it in my family. This draws crowds in my family. Just this past Xmas eve, Double S and I had to elbow my cousins and aunts and uncles away from it. In St. Louis you’d go to the friendliest stores in town (Baggers represent! That was me, first job, back in ’91 y’all!), and buy a rye bread bowl and cut off the top and insert the dip. Then you’d break up the pieces from the top you took off, and use them for dipping. Maybe they’re made especially for the purpose of dill dip? Not sure. But, I do love the traditions of my hometown!
I tried to find a suitable picture of the dip in a bread bowl, and I ended up finding a blog post about it. And, yes!, St. Louis is mentioned. Anyway…
Ingredients for Briggsy’s Mom’s Dill Dip:
- Sour cream. 3/4 cup.
- Mayo. 3/4 cup.
- Beau Monde seasoning. I wasn’t sure exactly what this was. I figured it was straight up MSG, but it’s not! The fine folks at Spice Islands, Inc., wouldn’t lie, would they? Use about 1-2 teaspoons, to taste.
- Diced onion–about 1/4 of a medium-sized onion, or to taste.
- Dill weed–dried. Use about 2 teaspoons or more. Let it sit and taste it after it has marinated. Add more to taste. I guess I should say that fresh dill works too, and you’d think this is what I would have used. No, I had to follow my mom’s lead here. Feel free to use fresh dill though!
- Rye bread. I bought a loaf and we cut it into bite sized pieces.
Mix all of the above ingredients (except the bread! You so crazy!) and let chill for a few hours or overnight. Taste before serving and add more dill or Beau Monde if needed. Serve with rye bread chunks, and veggies for those who are so inclined.
But wait, there’s more dips! Is any party complete without Lipton’s onion dip? Answer: No. So easy, so classic. So inexplicably delicious. Well, I guess it’s not that inexplicable. Take two of the most exquisite tastes on earth: salty salt and creamy sour cream, and mix with some brown onion flavoring, and prepare to transcend. I’ve tried making a more complicated version of this dip with carmelized onions, garlic, etc. Don’t bother. Don’t mess with a classic.
And finally, because I had a few more minutes and I love going over the top, I made quick kettle corn. Just tossed 1/4 cup of sugar in with 1/3 cup of oil and 3/4 cup popcorn kernels, and there you have it, popcorn that tastes like kettle corn and only takes minutes to make! And our party spread was complete!
So MC Skat Cat, and Paula–I guess, were right…opposites attract. 1970s dips and local sustainable sandwiches.
When we get together it just all works out!
Post script: First, I thought the game was boring. I did miss that now famous Leno/Letterman/Oprah commercial, but I can’t say I care about the late night talk show debacle of 2010. Second, I know the Simpson’s shilled for Butterfinger back in the early 90s, but Matt Groening had them doing a lot of questionable activities back then, didn’t he?
I’m not gonna lie, I had the album. But still, seeing their ad for Coke during the Super Bowl made me die inside a little. Coke? Man. Then, when Double S and I heard the Arcade Fire on an NFL commercial we were punched in the gut for a minute, decrying them as sell outs.
But then I read today that those very musically inclined Canadians licensed the use of their song to the NFL only as long as all proceeds from the airing of the song during the Super Bowl and subsequent airings on the NFL Network will go to Partners in Health’s Stand with Haiti efforts. Sigh of relief. When are they coming out with a new album?