With the Super Bowl kickoff occurring in less than one week, it’s time that I start dishing out some recipes to feed those big appetites that the Big Game’s excitement always seems to create. Although we are primarily Patriots fans in this household, having grown up in New Jersey, I also like the Giants. Seeing as they are this year’s underdog, I am going to dedicate my first recipe to them. I’ll pay tribute to the Pats later this week.
Residents of the tri-state area not only love their Giants, they love their Italian delis, especially for the colossal sandwiches and hoagies (that’s a sub sandwich for all of you left coasters) that they offer. This Antipasto Pressed Picnic Sandwich would be right up Tony Soprano’s alley, something he might eat off of his checkered tablecloth-covered "office" outside of Satriale’s, while taking meetings with his Jersey crew. This sandwich is nice, thick, and filling, stacked with multiple types of Italian meats, provolone cheese, and a zesty olive and red pepper spread. It is layered to form one large sandwich, wrapped, and refrigerated for several hours, allowing all of the flavors to blend. Then, it can be cut into wedges or smaller, bite-sized pieces for a party platter (secure them with a toothpick). No matter which side you are cheering for come Sunday, this sandwich is sure to score a touchdown with your hungry crowd. Capice? Here are a few tips for making this super-sized sandwich:
- The sandwich will keep, tightly wrapped in the refrigerator, for 3-4 days.
- Capicola is an Italian cold cut made from a piece of pork shoulder and then dry-cured. Capicola is sometimes pronounced "gab-bah-GOOL" (a la Tony Soprano) by Italian-Americans as it reflects the pronunciation of the word in Neapolitan dialect. All of the meats in this recipe should be available at your grocery store’s deli counter. Thinly sliced smoked ham or prosciutto may be substituted for the capicola in this recipe.
- Mortadella is an Italian cold cut, also made of cured pork, which incorporates small cubes of pork fat. It is delicately flavored with spices, such as black pepper, nutmeg, and coriander, and often contains slices of pistachios. You can substitute bologna slices for the mortadella in this sandwich.
- Soppressata is an Italian cured dry salami which often includes whole green peppercorns for heat. Feel free to substitute any thinly sliced salami for the soppressata.
- You can also substitute turkey for one of the meats in this sandwich. Instead of provolone, you can substitute thinly sliced swiss, cheddar, or even buffalo mozzarella. As long as you have a combination of three meats and one cheese, the sandwich should have a similar appearance when completed. Spinach or other mixed greens may be substituted for the arugula. Instead of a round loaf, you can try a 1 pound ciabatta loaf or rectangular foccacia loaf.
- Try to drain the olive mixture a bit prior to spreading it onto the bread halves. This will help to prevent the bread from getting too soggy.
Antipasto Pressed Picnic Sandwich
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 pitted green olives, chopped
1/3 cup pitted, chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large round bread loaf (about 1 pound and 10-12 inches in diameter)
2-3 cups arugula leaves
4 ounces thinly sliced hot capicola
4 ounces thinly sliced mortadella
4 ounces thinly sliced soppressata
4 ounces thinly sliced provolone
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced into rings
Whisk the vinegar, garlic, and oregano in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the olives and the roasted red peppers. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
Cut the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread, leaving a 1/2 inch border in both halves. Divide the olive and roasted red pepper mixture between the two halves, spreading it evenly over the cut sides.
Arrange the arugula leaves over the bottom half of the bread in an even layer. Top the arugula with the hot capicola, followed by the mortadella, soppressata, and provolone. Try to distribute each layer as evenly as possible. Top the provolone with the sliced red onions. Carefully cover the sandwich with the top half of the loaf, pressing firmly to adhere.
Wrap the sandwich tightly in several layers of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to one day, prior to serving in order to allow flavors to meld. Cut into wedges and serve.