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Central Grocery

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From New Orleans Restaurants

No trip to New Orleans is complete for me without a trip to Central Grocery for a Muffuletta. Detractors can fill the comments section with why they dislike the Central Grocery Muffuletta and why their favorite is so much better, have at it, but for my money Central Grocery does everything right with the sandwich that is said to have been created here by Salvatore Lupo.

Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant opened the store in 1906 and operated it until 1946 when he retired and passed the reins to his son-in law Salvatore Tusa. The Muffuletta is said to have been invented early on to feed the Sicilian and Italian truck drivers who were driving produce, etc. to The French Market. The store is still in the family and has changed little over the years, with the exception of increased tourist traffic. Salvatore Lupo’s daughter, Marie Lupo Tusa released a cookbook in 1980 called Marie’s Melting Pot

Central Grocery is an old style Italian market, with Italian imports, pasta, olive oil, meats, cheeses as well as local New Orleans Creole items.

From New Orleans Restaurants
From New Orleans Restaurants
From New Orleans Restaurants
From New Orleans Restaurants

The Central Grocery Muffuletta has everything that a great Muffuletta should, a great mix of Genoa Salami, Mortadella, Ham, Mozzarella, Provolone (my Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe), a wonderful chunky Olive Salad made with Sicilian Olives just crushed, not chopped, Gardiniera, oregano, lots of oil (my Muffuletta Olive Salad Recipe) , and the quintessential bread, the round muffuletta loaf, about 10-11″ across topped with sesame seeds, light in the center with a nice crust (my Muffuletta Bread Recipe).

From New Orleans Restaurants

I love this sandwich so much that on one trip, I had all of my other meals locked in except for breakfast, and alas, purchased and almost killed an entire Central Grocery Muffuletta while sitting on the banks of the Mississippi while watching the barges roll by, and listening to a street musician trumpet the most somber rendition of Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans that I have ever heard (and I mean that as the highest compliment). All this before 10 o’clock a.m. while my wife slept-in back at the hotel.

From New Orleans Restaurants

By the way, in my humble opinion, sitting on the riverwalk is definately the best way to enjoy the Central Grocery Muffuletta, maybe not for breakfast, but definately for lunch. Grab a cold Louisiana beer or Barq’s Root Beer from the liquor store a few doors down, find a nice spot on the river and enjoy a piece of New Orleans that you won’t soon forget. Don’t forget to tip the musician who will surely cement the experience in your memory.

From New Orleans Restaurants

If you don’t get to enjoy a Muffuletta during your visit to New Orleans, at least grab one to go for the plane or car ride home! There is nothing more soul satisfying than unwrapping an enormous Muffuletta on a plane or in an airport food court and releasing the vapor of garlic and cured pork, where the captive diners will undoubtedly administer the stink eye, or question you as to where you found that sandwich, as if you found such perfection at the airport. When asked from airports in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, wherever… ‘Where did you get that sandwich?’ it is always fun to give a half cocked smile and casually say ‘New Orleans’, then take a HUGE bite out of that sucker as if it was your last morsel on earth, then shake your head in amazement as to how wonderful it tastes. Trust me, you won’t have to act.

Central Grocery
(504) 620-0174
923 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116

If you can’t make it to New Orleans I have recipes for all of the components of the Mighty Muffuletta here:

Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe
Muffuletta Olice Salad Recipe
Muffuletta Bread Recipe

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole and Cajun Recipes, which links to all of the recipe featured on this site!!

Related Posts:

Napoleon House

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Shrimp and Eggplant Dressing Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

Shrimp and Eggplant are a perfect flavor match in this traditional Creole Italian dish, neither trying to overpower the other, just existing in perfect harmony, kind of like Oysters and artichokes, and Okra and Tomatoes.

Besides the Muffuletta, you don’t hear as much about the Italian and Sicilian immigrant contribution to Creole Cuisine as you do the French influence, this is just one.

By the way, there is a great little book from Pelican Publishing in Gretna called The New Orleans Italian Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from the Italian American Society of Jefferson Auxillary. It was first published in 1979, it features recipes from a lot of different people, from Chefs to homecooks, a great little book.

Back to the dish, it’s important to use small eggplant, because they have very few seeds, it’s just less headache. Also, you could alternately boil the eggplants whole, scoop out the pulp and save the shells to bake your dressing in, if you’re into that sort of thing.

As far as the shrimp, I only use wild caught American shrimp these days, if I can’t get American, I don’t eat Shrimp. True, they are more expensive than the flavorless Southeast Asian farm raised stuff out there, and harder to find for that matter, but they taste a whole lot better; and more importantly, purchasing them supports our own Shrimp fisherman who are absolutely suffering these days.

Anyway, back to the recipe, it’s hard to cook when you’re standing on top of a soapbox. 😉

I served this as a side to a big plate of Fried Chicken, Green Onion mashed Potatoes, and Cornbread.

Shrimp and Eggplant Dressing Recipe

1 lb Wild Caught American Gulf Shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped (Reserve the shells)
1 Bay leaf
1 bundle Fresh Thyme, tied with butchers twine
Water, enough to cover the eggplant by 1 inch
1 splash Liquid Crab Boil
4-5 small Eggplant, peeled, enough to yield about 2 1/2-3 Cups Cooked
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Large Spanish Onion, finely diced
1 Medium Green Bell Pepper, finely diced
4 Toes Garlic, minced
2 Green Onions, sliced thin, keep the green and white parts seperate
1 Egg, beaten
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped
1 Cup Bread Crumbs (preferably homemade from leftover French bread)

For the topping:

1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup grated Parmeggiano, and Pecorino Romano
3 Tbsp Melted Butter
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
A pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring the water to boil in a Dutch Oven. Add the Bay Leaf, bundled Thyme, reserved Shrimp shells, crab boil, any trim from the diced onion, and a handful of Kosher salt. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, skim off the scum from the shrimp shells. Add the Eggplant and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, melt the 3 Tbsp butter in a saute pan. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt, saute until the onions are translucent, add the chopped Thyme and the chopped shrimp, cook until the shrimp are just cooked through; set aside to cool.

When the eggplant is very tender remove with tongs to a colainder to cool. When cool, squeeze some of the liquid from it and chop.

In a large bowl combine the eggplant, onion & pepper mixture, egg, fresh basil, and parsley, mix ingredients together well. Add the bread crumbs a little at a time until the right consistency is achieved; it should be not too wet, not too dry. Check the seasoning; season to taste with Kosher salt, Cayenne, and black pepper.

Add the mixture to a buttered gratin or baking dish. Mix together the topping ingredients, top the shrimp and eggplant dressing with it. Bake in the preheated oven until bubbly and the topping is a nice golden brown.

Makes enough for a side dish for 4.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

Related Posts:

Muffuletta Recipe
Shrimp Stuffed Mirlitons
Creole Stuffed Peppers
Creole Smothered Okra & Tomatoes Recipe

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I received an email from Kristen Browning-Blas, food editor for The Denver Post, the other day asking permission to use my Muffuletta recipe at the Denver Post website, I said of course. Here is the article about Serio’s Po-Boys & Deli.

As I browsed through the pics and recipes I realized I needed to have a Muffuletta as soon as possible, so Anna and I headed over to Ventimiglia’s Italian Market, here in the Detroit area, to gather the necessary ingredients.

But of course, as I’ve mentioned in the past, Muffuletta Bread is not to be found here in the Detroit area, so that had to be made as well.

I used my Muffuletta Bread recipe, Olive Salad recipe , my Muffuletta sandwich recipe, which I altered slightly by doubling the amount of meat and cheese, I figured what the hell, I’m going to all of this trouble, why not go the full 9.

By the way for a great Italian Market in the Detroit area check out:

Ventimiglia’s Italian Foods
35197 Dodge Park
Sterling Heights, MI 48312

Related Posts:

Be sure and check out Jason Perlow’s post on The Muffuletta at Off the Broiler!

Muffuletta Bread recipe
Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe
Muffuletta Olive Salad Recipe
Shrimp Po’ Boy Recipe
Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe

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