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Philly's "Corned Beef Special"

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There was a thread back in October/November of 2001 talking up a local Philadelphia favorite sandwich, the Corned Beef Special: Corned beef, swiss cheese, coleslaw, Russian Dressing, on rye. How is this prepared differently than a "Rachel Sandwich," which is a variation on the classic Reuben? The Betty Crocker Cookbook lists Rachel as a subheading under "Reuben," and says to substitute xx cups of coleslaw for the sauerkraut of a Reuben. A "Corned Beef Special," then, yes?
I am figuring there is some local twist that makes the "Corned Beef Special" something apart from the "Rachel."
Please enlighten me!

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  1. A typical Corned Beef Special does not include cheese. It is corned beef, cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye bread. While the corned beef can be slightly warmed, this is generally not a hot sandwich which I suspect the Rachel is.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Faye D.
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      Bill Wardell

      Wrong!! The only place that a corned beef special is not served hot is in Phila. Everywhere else it is hot. If you really want to try world's best simply go to Kibbutz across from Jones at 7th and Chestnut.

      1. re: Bill Wardell

        The only place? Gee, growing up in NYC I ate a lot of Corned Beef specials, and they were all as Faye describes them: no cheese (yikes, how treif!) and while the corned beef may have been warm, the sandwich as a whole certainly wasn't.

        --Karen

    2. There are three steps to corned beef

      1) The traditional Rueben - warm/hot corned beef, saurkraut, swiss, russian dressing, on rye and generally grilled or pan fried like a grilled cheese would be

      2) The Rachael - same as above except substitute saurkraut with cole slaw

      3) The Special - same as above except the bread is "raw" (ie not grilled, fried or anything, just plain)

      1. Aaagh! Please, no cheese on my corned-beef special. Just corned beef, cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye.
        The Rachel is news to me, but if it's with cheese, I'll skip it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sylvia

          I've never heard of cheese on a corned beef special. Not kosher.

        2. m
          Mike Matthews

          The ideal Corned Beef Special has the beef first "steamed." Ask for it this way.

          By the way, the inventor of the Corned Beef Special is Charles Weber of Philadelphia.