Muffuletta: Engineering a sandwich

Muffuletta

Finished muffuletta recipe. (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune / March 27, 2014)

My robot is old school: Wind him up and he lurches across the desk, orange tin arms swinging, red tin boots shuffling, black tin eyes deep in concentration. And though he makes excellent company, I'm glad I didn't invite him to the robotics competition. Frankly, things have changed.

Packed into stadium bleachers, hundreds of young engineers in bright T-shirt and funny hats cheered on their creations. These robots were low and wide, smooth on their wheels and dexterous — they could pass, shoot and score. Not one blinked or grimaced. No faces.

Building the bot had taken six weeks in a sweaty basement. It took wrenches, screwdrivers, safety glasses. It took mathematics, elastics, pneumatics. It took calibration, cooperation, concentration. It took many, many sandwiches.

Home from the match, I engineered a muffuletta. The sandwich is wide and low. It's packed with cheese and ham and olives and improved by the mechanics of the squish. It's hearty enough to keep a whole robotics team on track. And simple enough to please the old-school fan of the windup.

Muffuletta

Prep: 30 minutes

Wait: 90 minutes

Serves: 6

2 ½ cups Olive Salad

(recipe follows)

1 (1-pound) loaf

round Italian bread

4 ounces thinly

sliced provolone

4 ounces thinly

sliced ham

4 ounces thinly

sliced mozzarella

¾ cup grape

tomatoes,

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