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Jul 4, 2009 12:10 PM

Reubens complaint

I cant stand Thousand Island dressing on my Reuben sand wich. It turns something glorious into a overlly sweet , gloppy mess. Alocal deli in town uses a schmear of spicy brown mustard and one of mayo. Its not bad , but I still prefer mustard only. What do the other chowhounds think?

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  1. it's certainly your prerogative to eat a sandwich any way you want to, but if it doesn't have Thousand Island or Russian Dressing, it's not a Reuben.

    6 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Oooohh, food fight! Food fight! And a patty melt on anything but rye bread isn't a patty melt, and a lobster roll on a side-split bun isn't a lobster roll... Since the Reuben was a carefully invented sandwich concocted from a limited number of very specific ingredients, I'm inclined to agree with goodhealthgourmet on this point, much more than in the case of the pattymelt, whose history is perhaps unknowable and whose makeup varies from place to place.

      1. re: Will Owen

        Will, I roll up lobster meat with butter in a warm flour tortilla. Does that make it a southwestern lobster roll? I also put boiled crawfish in them, with a little butter dipped in juices squeezed from the head, very delicious. Our local Kroger and HEB grocers make fresh tortillas in store, much better than the packaged stuff.

      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

        While I agree with you in general, I can sympathize with the OP. If they're slathering commercial sickly-sweet 1000 Islands on the sandwich, I wouldn't be happy either. And a Russian dressing (there are hundreds of recipes available on the net!) is basically some mayo, a bit of ketchup, and then some ingredients (grated onion, lemon juice, vinegar, Worcester sauce, etc. -take your pick) to sharpen it up, not make it into dessert. Honestly, how hard is that for anything but a fast food place?

        1. re: KevinB

          Home made thousand for me which is simple to make. I only use that. for my reubens.

        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Sorry, yes goodhealth, thousand island or russian, thousand for me. Otherwise no way a reuben. I don't drown it however. and it certainly isn't gooey or sloopy. It is grilled cripsy, good beef and nice, never gloppy at all. I hate that as well.

          Yes, I love thousand for this.

          My secret. I lightly toast the inside first then put the sauce on, cheese, meat, kraut, and more cheese and then more sauce then top bread.. By lightly toasting the inside, in doesn't allow the bread to get soggy. Then butter the outside bread and toast. No soggy bread for me.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Ditto. Grill the Reuben with thousand island inside and serve a little more on the side.

          2. Jfood is a huge russian dressing fan on sandwiches, but it has to be the correct sandwich. And a Reuben falls into this category. The other sandwich in which RD is an important component is the true Sloppy Joe. And that is the NJ Sloppy Joe as seen in this picture.


            1 Reply
            1. re: jfood

              Roast Beef and Russian was a deli standard in my youth; still works well.

            2. sounds like you're talking about diner, foodservice, sugary, 1000 island glop. I much prefer real 1000 island which is only as sweet as you choose to make it. I'm in the camp that a reuben needs 1k island, but only the good stuff - nothing sweet, thank you. As a sort of tangent, but along the same lines, I still have no idea why so many ppl prefer sugary tartar sauce. Fish covered in sugar is not really my cup of tea.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gordeaux

                I don't make reubens that often but I do make my thousands fresh, same with tarter. I don't mind a couple of bottled dressings on hand, ranch and balsamic (my Publix grocery store brand) but thousand is one I like only fresh made.

              2. So without the dressing we're to call a rueben a corned beef, cheese and sauerkraut sandwich? Hmmm. What other sandwiches depend completely on condiments for their identity? :)

                33 Replies
                  1. re: pesto

                    To you and grampart: which/what is the "condiment"? "PB&J" is like "ham and cheese"...

                    Ham and cheese and ? I would argue that any condiment with ham and cheese still makes it a "ham and cheese" sandwich. PB&J +?; not so sure.

                    1. re: Scargod

                      My thought (and I was just having fun) was that jelly is the condiment to peanut butter or peanut butter is the condiment to jelly.

                    1. re: bbqboy

                      The French Dip - without the au jus it's just roast beef. The Italian Beef - without the giardina it's also just roast beef. The Chicago Hot dog - without the salad of toppings, it's just a hot dog.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        ghg, you've picked up on a pet peeve of mind. I can't stand restaurants who advertise "roast beef served with au jus sauce". The absolute worst was a place whose menu offered a "roast beef sandwich with fresh beef au jus sauce". The kicker came when I asked my waitress later about the jus, and she admitted it came from a mix.

                        1. re: KevinB

                          it drives me NUTS. and i didn't mean to pick on ReggieL, or, for that matter, anyone else who unwittingly uses the term incorrectly. as you pointed out, restaurants do it on their menus all the time, so of course people who see it used that way are going to assume it's correct. (unless they have some familiarity with French or a solid foundation of knowledge for culinary terms).

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I realize that an authentic French Dip is dipped in the cooking jus the problem is that there is not a restaurant today that does it that way - ok, Philippe's in LA still does it that way. I'm pretty sure that the picture that most people get of a french dip is the one where the sandwich is served dry with a little cup of salty beef whatever served on the side. Is it right - no, it's disgusting. But I'm pretty sure that that is what most people picture as authentic.

                            1. re: ReggieL.

                              Brennan and Carr on Avenue U in Brooklyn.

                              1. re: phantomdoc

                                My husband took me to this wondrous, beefy place a few years ago. I am not a fan of wet, soggy bread under normal circumstances, but Brennan and Carr's did something magical to it... Really was a tasty treat!

                              2. re: ReggieL.

                                The entire city of Chicgo's beef sammich stands still do it correctly. However, these are not called "french dips" and the diners that do these French Dips probably do it the foodservice (incorrect) way also.

                                1. re: gordeaux

                                  I just had am amazing French dip from Les Halle in NYC -
                                  It tasted truly "authentic" at least in my mind what authentic should taste like! The Jus was so delicate yet so tasty.....yummmmm

                                2. re: ReggieL.

                                  Mmmmm...My dad and I just went to Phillippe's on Fathers Day. Always a winner...

                                  1. re: ReggieL.

                                    ReggieL, i think you misunderstood my comment....i was talking about your terminology/usage. it's served with jus, not "au jus." drop the "au."

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      granted my french maynot be perfect, but find me a menu anywhere in the continental US that says differently. I'm not arguing proper french, just the accepted use of the term when referring to this particular sandwich. How many people refer to Korbel as Champagne. Same argument.

                                      1. re: ReggieL.

                                        >>How many people refer to Korbel as Champagne. Same argument.<<
                                        A losing one?

                                        Sorry, I couldn't resist. Also, ReggieL - I think everyone pretty much agrees with what you've said - we all know it's incorrect usage, but it's used all the time. you should have ended your post with "Same difference." Bonus points if you could have used the term "irregardless" also.


                                        1. re: gordeaux

                                          and a triple word score if he had managed to sneak in "anyways" as well ;)

                                          1. re: gordeaux

                                            Irregardless not standard form being a double negative. Somewhat akin to the word flammable. The in part of inflammable does not mean that it will not burn. I have no problem with mustard on a Reuben. I can really go for a bowl of soup de jour. I can't pass this up on a menu. How about an Apple Martini or Tuna carpaccio.

                                            1. re: phantomdoc

                                              If it has mustard on it, it is NOT a Reuben. It doesn't matter if you think it is the greatest sandwich in the world, and have no problem with it. Indeed, it may be the greatest sandwich in the world. No problem. But it is NOT, I REPEAT, NOT a Reuben. Period. If you want to qualify the term, as in "mustard reuben", OK, kind of like apple martini.

                                              1. re: phantomdoc

                                                I also can't pass up that sushi that doesn't come with rice...what's it called? Oh yeah, sashimi. The sushi without the rice.
                                       that I thought about it, I shouldn't of wrote that. I must of had too many glasses of this great Californian champagne, or one too many chocolate martinis today.

                                                1. re: gordeaux

                                                  Yes for me, I love Californian champagne. I should of drunk some with my last Reuben and creamy soup. My famous Palin's Got Nothing on Me chili-lime-chocolate martini also, I love it. Simple and easy, why not? Sometimes garnish with grilled mango. '-P

                                            2. re: ReggieL.

                                              >>>find me a menu anywhere in the continental US that says differently

                                              Rising to the challenge, I suggest you take a look at the menu here (under the sandwich, etc. category):


                                              1. re: ReggieL.

                                                as i said, i wasn't specifically picking on you. but the perpetuation of incorrect usage, whether by restaurants or consumers, doesn't make it right. in fact, it just contributes to the further deterioration of the language. instead of encouraging it, i'd personally rather do my part to correct the misuse, error, misunderstanding, or whatever else you want to call it, when i happen to see it.

                                            3. re: ReggieL.

                                              A steakhouse would serve real au jus. It is not rocket science, but you do need to be serving beef that you are handcutting to make a good au jus. You need prime rib bones that have been cracked (to get to the marrow)... meat scraps. veggies...

                                          2. re: KevinB

                                            It's even worse when they treat au jus as a single word, as in "roast beef with aujus", which I have seen more than once.

                                            1. re: KevinB

                                              My best friend and I became best friends, officially, when we were at a restaurant, and I ordered the prime rib that the menu said is served "with au jus." The plate came--no jus. I looked at my plate and exclaimed, "Hey, my steak didn't come with with with juice!" She declared her everlasting affection for me then and there.

                                          3. re: bbqboy

                                            It does depend on the condiments with a reuben. The 1000 island mellows the shapness of the kraut. Nustard certainly would not. OP needs to find another source for a reuben.

                                            1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                              Hey Sal

                                              I answered your question as to why my chicken san was so good last night on the other board but I guess it was TMI - and CH deleted it!!
                                              Oh well !
                                              Now I'm craving this Reuben concoction again!!

                                            2. re: bbqboy

                                              It's funny--I saw an article about favorite sandwiches recently that claimed Jacques Pepin (a CT resident) enjoyed a reuben and went on to say it was made with first thought was, no, not pastrami but corned beef! It then went on to say his favorite lobster roll was made with mayo (CT is a hot buttered lobster roll state, not a lobster salad state), so I figured his sandwich cred just went out the window. ;) Thankfully, Monsieur Pepin is a man of many other culinary talents.

                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                Les Français, ils sont très étranges
                                                Jerry Lewis gets Legion of Honor medal
                                                PARIS (AP) — France formalized its fascination with Jerry Lewis Thursday with a uniquely Gallic gift for his 80th birthday: a medal and induction into the Legion of Honor.

                                                1. re: wolfe

                                                  Oui, je comprend. My cousin would say, "special" or "bizarre." ;)

                                                2. re: kattyeyes

                                                  As you are a culinary talent of many colors! Abrazos!

                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                    Boy, do you really think that Monseur Pepin considers himself a *native* of CT? I'd say if he had his lobster roll with mayo, as they do in other places, then that might convince ME. I still just don't *get* the concept of melted butter on a hot dog bun. Doesn't sing to me.

                                                3. This has been my go-to recipe for the past few years. Everyone in my family thinks it's the best.

                                                  Reuben Sandwich
                                                  by Arthur Schwartz
                                                  Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food

                                                  Modern-day Reuben sandwiches are often open-faced and broiled, which dries out the corned beef and makes the cheese rubbery. Or, under the misguided belief that more is better, they are overstuffed. The main things to remember for a great Reuben are to keep the filling under control and in balance, so when you bite into it you get a harmonious and succulent mouthful; and to grill the sandwich slowly and under some pressure, so the bread gets toasty brown and buttery crisp, the meat gets warmed through, and the cheese is just melted enough to be oozy.

                                                  Yield: Makes 1
                                                  2 slices rye bread or pumpernickel
                                                  2 teaspoons butter, at room temperature
                                                  2 tablespoons Reuben's Russian Dressing (recipe below)
                                                  1/4 cup well-drained, fresh-style sauerkraut
                                                  2 ounces thinly sliced Gruyère or Switzerland Swiss cheese
                                                  1/4 pound thinly sliced corned beef

                                                  Butter each slice of bread evenly to the edges on one side.
                                                  Place one slice, buttered side down, in a small cold skillet: Build the sandwich in the skillet you'll grill it in. Spread 1 tablespoon of the Russian dressing on the face-up, dry side of the bread. Then put on the sauerkraut, spreading it evenly. Arrange the cheese in an even layer over the sauerkraut, then do the same with the corned beef. Spread another 1 tablespoon Russian dressing on the dry side of the second slice of bread and place it, dressing side down, buttered side up, over the corned beef.

                                                  Place the skillet over medium-low heat and grill the sandwich slowly, pressing down on it a few times with a wide metal spatula. Grill until the bread is browned and crisped, then turn the sandwich over with the help of the spatula.

                                                  Now weight the sandwich down by placing a plate (or another small skillet) over the sandwich, then adding on a weight, such as a 28-ounce can of tomatoes. Grill until the second side has browned and crisped, then flip the sandwich over one more time to briefly reheat the other side.

                                                  Russian Dressing
                                                  Servings: 3/4 cup or so

                                                  Ingredients1/2 cup of mayo
                                                  1 tablespoon ketchup
                                                  1 teaspoon of grated onion
                                                  1/2 teaspoon of horseradish
                                                  1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
                                                  1 tablespoon of parsley
                                                  Serve immediately.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                    I do just about the same, but add some finely minced cornichons, and omit the parsley. That is what I remember from my childhood in NYC, but we all know how mistaken children can be about their own history.

                                                    1. re: grampart

                                                      I'm sure your version works well, but personally, I prefer a beef bottom, then kraut, with the cheese melted over top. The cheese works to hold the kraut and beef together.

                                                      And I agree that open-faced versions aren't "classic" but I find in restaurants I can eat them without dripping everything on my shirt. At home, where I don't care, I love grabbing it with two hands and digging in!