First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Reuben sandwiches are not Irish. But, we shall pretend they are because they contain corned beef. Actually, turns out, corned beef is also not Irish either! According to the super accurate Wikipedia, corned beef was used by Irish immigrants in the absence of bacon in the 18th century. So the consumption of corned beef by the Irish is really just an Americanized tradition.
Second, it may seem like a Reuben sandwich is pretty straightforward. While there are certainly variations, the typical sandwich consists of corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on Rye bread. But, if you’re like me and you’ve ordered Reubens at a variety of restaurants, you know they are not all created equal. I’m here to share how I make my sandwich, and I think it’s fantastic.
So here’s my #irishomarch Reuben sandwich!
- Corned beef – I use deli corned beef, preferably sliced very thin. Although the best restaurant reuben I’ve had recently had finely shredded corned beef.
- Swiss cheese – 2 slices, because the corned beef & sauerkraut can be pretty liquidy so the cheese just keeps your bread from being soggy. Also, why wouldn’t you have 2 slices of cheese?
- Sauerkraut – I have an unfair advantage here in that my dad makes sauerkraut, so I don’t have to buy it. I bought it once – and it was a sweet variety (it reminded me of bread & butter pickles) – and it was terrible. If you don’t shards of sauerkraut stuck in your teeth, chop it slightly, otherwise, plan on flossing.
- Russian dressing – I make my own. For 2 sandwiches – 2 TBSP of mayo, 2 TBSP of ketchup, 1/2 tsp horseradish, 1 tsp pickle relish, dash of onion powder, salt to taste.
- Rye bread – this time, I used marbled rye bread that I baked in January and froze. If I buy bread, I like the swirled kind, or rye / pumpernickel. The bread needs to be buttered on the grilling side.
Many times when I make a sandwich, I like to use my panini maker, to get both sides equally browned. Depending how thick the sandwich is, the contents are usually warmed through when I use the panini maker. Also, then I don’t have to try to flip a massive sandwich. The panini maker condenses everything together and is usually a great tool. But for the reuben – I make it on my stovetop, and for some reason, it’s just better.
- Heat a small skillet and toss in the corned beef – it’s only in the pan 30 seconds to a minute, but that time is critical to the flavor of the sandwich. It dries up the meat just a little bit.
- Once the beef is heated, toss the sauerkraut in the pan and heat that for a minute or two. This also helps dry it up a little to avoid that dreaded soggy sandwich.
- Butter one side of each piece of bread.
- Put a piece of Swiss cheese on each of the unbuttered sides.
- Layer the meat, then sauerkraut, and then a hefty dollop of Russian dressing. Add the other piece of bread.
- Spray a heated (low heat) stove top griddle with non-stick spray and add the sandwich.
- The trickiest part is knowing when to flip it, and then flipping it without tossing the contents about the kitchen. All I can say is, low heat, and watch the edges with the cheese. You want to see it melting before you flip – but the low heat will prevent you from burning it. Also, a wide spatula.
- Serve with any leftover Russian dressing for dipping.
I served this with potato wedges and broccoli, because I always serve broccoli. It’s one of my top 4 favorite sandwiches! I may even make it again this month, if I make a corned beef roast, and shred the leftovers.
Do you like traditional reuben sandwiches??
Happy Irish ‘O March! A few more Irish-ish treats coming soon!