Then a strange thing happened. I was reading over Mrs. Wheelbarrow's blog entry for July and I saw her mortadella. Mortadella is basically (coughing into hand and clearing my throat) bologna. But it's the kind of bologna that could take Oscar Meyer outside and rough him up a bit for ever making his bologna what the general public here in America accepts as being the standard for bologna. So, I was reading Mrs. Wheelbarrow's blog, and I saw that she had made her mortadella in a beef bung. A what???? Her exact words were that "...it was a casing with an opening on only one end? I’ll leave it up to you to do the research." I have a morbid curiosity at times and so I began to research what a beef bung was. Let's just say that I did find out roughly what it was and then I stopped because I have officially decided that sometimes ignorance truly is bliss. I was grossed out enough. However, for the next several days, my mind kept drifting back to mortadella. I wanted to make it. It was one of those things I wanted to be able to say I had done just once. In Ruhlman's book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing he had mentioned that you could cook the mortadella in plastic wrap. But, I had an itch to do it the traditional way. So, out the window went homemade hot dogs for now and in the front door walked my beef bung.
I tried to see if my butcher could get me a fresh bung, but alas the time had finally come when he was not able to attain what I needed. He was able to provide the pork and the back fat for me though, so I was a happy camper. This is where my post this month turns into a love story. Not one between my butcher and myself, certainly not between the beef bung and myself *shivers*, but rather between my husband and I. You see he did something wonderful that Friday. He gave me the day off from being a mom so that I could have the house to myself and make the mortadella. He had offered to help make it during the kiddos nap time but I told him that I would never ask him to handle my bung. A husband should never have to do that for his wife. You see, it's already a love story.
So there I was, with the house all to myself, grateful that I didn't have Naiya there to question what organ I was stuffing my meat into now. I was more nervous this time more than any other challenge, because I knew that if I didn't do it just right, there was a chance that I was just going to lose everything. This was a tricky process that had to be constantly monitored, and I was remiss to give the dogs three pounds of ruined mortadella (much to their dismay). But in the end, after a few hours, I managed to make a perfect batch of mortadella. I do have to say, there was a smell to the bung, and it lingered in the kitchen to the point where I had to burn a candle to eradicate the foul smell.
But it's pretty amazing right??
And then, after all the work I had put in, I realized that essentially what I had done was make three pounds of lunch meat. Which we really don't eat that often. And what was I going to do with three pounds of lunch meat?? With all the other challenges, I had recipes in mind when I set out to make the meat. This was the reverse. I had set out making the meat because I was intrigued by the process, and I had absolutely no idea to do with it all when I was done. Luckily, it takes three days for the meat to marry its flavors, so I had some time to think. I came up with four ideas, all of which came out really well.
The first thing I did was make an anti pasta platter for dinner. I also served it with gapes and sweet rosemary buttermilk biscuits
Then there was the obvious: make bologna sandwiches for lunch. Of course in this house, that includes homemade bread, homemade mustard, homegrown lettuce, and now, apparently, homemade lunch meat. (Take THAT lunch ladies!) I guess sometimes it's the simple things that matter, because my husband totally caught the drift that he was getting a completely homemade sandwich.
Then, I started getting a little more creative. One of the things I noticed when I was looking online was that the majority of recipes that use mortadella were for a muffaletta sandwich. It's a New Orleans signature sandwich, and is essentially a frisbee sized sandwich a few inches thick... for two. Even in my hungriest of dreams, I couldn't imagine consuming that much food in one sitting. But looking out my back window into my garden at the nearly knee-high lettuce plants, an idea struck me. Instead of a sandwich, how about a salad? So I took all of the ingredients for a muffaletta sandwich, and adapted them into...
Inspired by the muffaletta sandwich at roadfood.com
- 1/2 cup green olives; finely minced
- 1 Tbs. fresh oregano; minced
- 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp garlic; finely minced
- Pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 slices of bread (1 per person)
- 1 garlic clove; minced
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. fresh oregano; minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 large handfuls of lettuce per person
- 1/4 lb. thinly sliced genoa salami
- 1/4 lb. thinly sliced Italian ham
- 1/4 lb. cubed mortadella
- 1/4 lb. thinly sliced provolone cheese
- Combine all salad dressing ingredients in a pint mason jar. Shake well to infuse. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small saute pan, heat olive oil with minced garlic clove over low heat until oil is infused with garlic. Set oil aside.
- Cut slices of bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with garlic oil and fresh oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spread croutons on a greased baking sheet and bake until the croutons are dry and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
- Once croutons are dry, pull out of oven and set aside.
- To assemble the salad, lay down one or two handfuls of lettuce per person, then top the salad with the salami, ham, mortadella, provolone cheese, and the croutons.
- Drizzle the top of the salad with the olive dressing.
*Get a printable version of this recipe here.
This is a dinner salad. Meaning, it's the main course. The dressing is thick but mimics the olive salad that is traditionally served with the muffaletta sandwich. "Ok, so how about hahahahahahahhahahha hee hee. Ohhh. Hahahahha. Ohh. Umm. Hahahahha. Ok, now you're just having fun. Ohh. It was good though, It was, the olives helped out, and gave it a nice richness to the salad, and made it filling. Now you're just having fun. Alright next p..."
***You just raised your eye brows didn't you? That will all make sense at the end, I promise. Remember, it's a love story.
The other thing that I came up with to do with the mortadella was a drink/appetizer. Or.... a "drinkatizer" or even an "appertini." (We have yet to come up with a good name for it. It's new, what can you do?) Where I started was with the anti pasta platter idea. But that's been done before. So I wanted to come up with something new. So I started thinking appetizers, and skewering things. Mortadella and cheese was an easy fit. When I made the sandwiches, my husband mentioned that he thought sharp cheddar cheese would have gone really well with it. So mortadella skewered with sharp cheddar. It needed something more. Something green. It didn't take long for me to think of olives. And what goes better with a green olive, than a dirty martini? That train of thought led me to...
The Dirty Mortadella
via Johnnie Martini <- Read this because it's hilarious
- A handful of ice
- 3 oz. Gin (Or Vodka if you just can't stomach the thought of Gin)
- 1/2 oz. of olive brine (This is not in his recipe but I like it in there)
- 1 tsp. Vermouth
- 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 oz. Mortadella; cubed
- 1 oz. Sharp cheddar cheese; cubed
- 3-4 green olives
- Put your martini glass in the freezer. Then heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Brown the mortadella a little on all sides. Once it's browned, remove it from the heat and set aside.
- On a wooden skewer alternate between the mortadella, the cheese, and the olives until the skewer is full. Set aside.
- In a shaker put the handful of ice, the Gin, and the olive brine. Shake it gently until the liquid is cold.
- Retrieve the martini glass from the freezer. Put the Vermouth in the glass and swirl it around to coat the glass. Once the inside of the glass is coated dump out the remaining Vermouth. Shake the glass until as much of the vermouth has been removed as possible. You only want a hint of it in the drink.
- Pour the martini into the glass and top with your mortadella skewer.
When I first pulled out the martini glasses Naiya was there looking at me quizzically, "What are those for?". When I told her it was for the mortadella I think she questioned my sanity. Then I realized that she was thinking I was going to puree the mortadella and put in in the drink. Ewww! No, no sweetie, mommy's not that far off her rocker just yet.
I have to say that I am not the girl who is ordering a classic martini when I'm out at a bar. If I get a martini it's more likely to be of the vodka variety and flavored in some really cool way. But, with that said, this was alright. The mortadella skewer acted like the lime and salt do for a good shot of tequila. A chaser of sorts. I also really like the mortadella browned and a little crispy. Maybe it just makes me feel like I'm not just scarfing down cubes of lunch meat like some deranged teenager.
This is normally where I would have ended this post but there is a bit more to this story left to go. Last night I was supposed to put this post together. You see these Charcutepalooza entries have to be put out on the 15th of the month to count. I like going to bed knowing that all I have to do is wake up and post it. Well yesterday afternoon I was canning some dill pickles when I did a stupid thing. I burned my hand with the brine when I was ladling it into the jars. I burned it and then there was no dinner, no post, no anything except for a small frozen water bottle held tightly in my hand. Oh, and me silently cursing my own stupidity. In the door walked my husband from work. We opted to go out to dinner since he was tired and dinner wouldn't be until too late for the little ones if he went in and made it. When we got back home and everyone with an early bedtime was all tucked in, I went and got myself a glass of wine and started to type out this post one handed. Enter my husband on his white horse with a beer in his hand. That's my kind of knight in shinning armour. "Move over baby, I'll type this for you. You just sit there and tell me what to type". He really is amazing. And he has his fun like that "craziness" up above that made you raise an eyebrow at me. He's a fast typer so he can fit in all those little gems while still keeping up with my current train of thought. So truly the mortadella this month was able to come together due to my husbands love for me. You see? I told you it was a love story.