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Mar 5, 2011 09:58 AM

How do you make your Reuben sandwich? Saint Patrick's Day is near!

Reuben sandwiches are a favorite. Any time of day or year. How do you make your Reuben? Here is how we do it:

Bread: Light rye or some other kind of deli Rye is what I like while go with what you like. And anything will do in a pinch if the other ingredients are quality.

Bacon bits: render off the fat from fresh bacon to save later for cooking. We only want the brown chunks cut small. Sometimes use bulk bacon ends for under $1 per pound while quality thick peppered bacon is a favorite.

Sauerkraut: I make my own sometimes being half German while often eat Steinfeld's here in Oregon in a pinch. Put a big scoop in your hand covered in a coffee filter over the sink and sqeeze all the juice out so the kraut gets almost fresh and crunchy. When I make lots of these I buy the 3 Quart can of Kraut (keep the cans with lids as I use them for all kinds of things later like cleaning small engine carburators).

Meat: Good corned beef you make yourself is best. Or from a deli, or pastrami, or turkey, or ham, or some kind of mix. I like to cut mine thin and then into about 1/8" strips.

Cheese: Here is where a great Swiss is worth the money.

1000 Island dressing: Mayo, catchup, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, chopped fresh home made pickles.

Assembly: Toast bread as brings out the flavor of the rye. When have the time in a cast iron pan use a good olive oil with fresh garlic and be careful you never get it to the smoke pint until both sides of the bread are toasted. If do not have the time a toaster works fine as seals the bread so the dressing doesn't soak in and find holds it together better in the end if toast bread. Then Put 1000 Island on two pieces of bread. Sprinkle with bacon. Put Kraut on both sides .. yes BOTH sides. then put meat on both sides. Then put layer of cheese on the side you are about to flip. Take your time here and make the flip to put it together. Cut in quarters as easier to eat that way.

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  1. I like to lightly toast a light/medium rye, smear it with an egg based sauce using Dill or Caraway to flavor it, lay on a thick stack of very thinly sliced high quality corned beef, sauerkraut (squeezed almost dry) and another stack of some very thinly sliced Swiss cheese. I will, sometimes, use two iron skillets (one with the sandwich inside, the other for a weight) to set up a poor man's Panini press to warm it through before serving. Guinnes, Alaskan Amber, O'Hara's Irish Red, Finnegans Irish Amber, whatever I can find on the shopping trip for that week tops it off.
    The key to a good Reuben, IMO, is to balance the ingredients so that no single ingredient dominates the flavor of the sandwich; that all flavors meld into one cohesive flavor profile. That can be a challenge but when it works, WOW!!

    1. The first many reubens I ever had were made by my next door neighbor in a small town in southern Ohio in the late 60's, and at the time, was just beyond exotic to me. I learned his recipe and started making them myself according to his method. He learned to make them at the atomic energy plant where he worked. (They sat around all day waiting to fix equipment, and cooking while they did so.) I've never had a reuben made this way since then. Due to the calorie bomb nature of it, I haven't made a reuben sandwich in many years, but I still crave them. When I have one in a restaurant, I'm always disappointed.

      On a piece of light/medium rye (we used Pepperidge Farm), we put a layer of hot pepper cheese, then a large amount of corned beef (we used canned corned beef back then -- I would love to make one of these using real deli corned beef), followed by a layer of sauerkraut, a thick spreading of horseradish sauce, then another layer of hot pepper cheese, followed by a piece of bread with the outside of the bread buttered.

      Melt butter in a skillet, cook the sandwich on one side until browned, then flip so the buttered side is down, pressing down with a spatula to make sure the cheese melts into the other ingredients. Brown on the other side and voila!

      When I was in high school, this was one of my ultimate favorite dinners. Russian dressing and Swiss cheese just don't cut it for me! I love what the hot pepper cheese and horseradish bring to it.

      4 Replies
      1. re: woodleyparkhound

        Yes! I make Reubens with horseradish sauce too. I dislike Thousand Island dressing, so I have used a horseradish spread or sometimes flavored mayo with powdered horseradish along with a good brown mustard. I also used to use Turkey pastrami to make these, but now that I can get lean corned beef, I use corned beef. I bake my sandwiches, wrapped in foil. I serve with good dill or sour pickle spears, chips and warmed unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon. I've never made these for St. Paddy's Day though. I don't think Reubens are an Irish dish.

        1. re: sueatmo

          Possibly Reubens are just something good to do with any corned beef laying around on the Irish holiday. Here is where others think the sandwich came from:

          If not Irish am hoping German because of the kraut. Am half German via Saint Petersberg Russia to North Dakota (thank you mom!). As someone said above when no ingredient dominates the combination is amaizing.

          1. re: smaki

            Jewish, I think. At least I've always thought so. Perhaps because it is a staple of Jewish Delis.

            1. re: sueatmo

              Very doubtful that it originated in a Jewish deli, because way back when, all Jewish deli's were kosher establishments, and a Reuben is inherently unkosher - milk and meat together.

              Never heard of one with bacon. I prefer rye bread, swiss cheese, pastrami, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Unlike OP, after assembly I pan-fry like making a grilled cheese sandwich - have to have the swiss melted.

      2. Slightly toasted Pumpernickel Rye ...Smeared with Homemade Russian Dressing that contains a hint of horseradish... several slices of fresh corned beef....sauerkraut....thin slice of Swiss.

        1. What I learned from this thread for tonight's reubens: Add Worcestershire to the mayo - ketchup - chopped pickle (or relish) dressing. I do plan to try horseradish reubens - with corned beef not pastrami.

          It's all in the "How:"

          First, gently brown the pastrami bit by bit in your cast iron pan so there are crisp edges. Remove and keep it warm. If there is fat left behind, mop it with what will become the outsides of the bread slices. Grill bread slices inside down until they start to toast. Flip and lay the cheese on the hot bread, then the pastrami in a rumply pile, then some sauerkraut and dressing. Spread and smear the dressing and kraut into the pastrami. Press the top slice of bread on. When the bottom gets golden brown, flip. If you did not get enough grease from the meat you can put some butter in the pan. You want low heat so the outside gets crisp and the inside has time to get all hot and melty.

          1. Bread - has to be Rye - WITH CARAWAY SEEDS!
            Corned Beef - has to be home-cooked; don't like the paper-thin deli stuff.
            Sauerkraut - whatever floats your boat - canned is fine with me.
            Cheese - Swiss.
            Thousand Island Dressing

            I make these two ways - regular or open-faced. Delicious either way, but obviously less messy open-faced.

            I just use a cast-iron pan to heat my beef & sauerkraut, then remove from the pan, add butter & grill/toast my bread in the pan. Spread bread with Thousand Island Dressing, assemble sandwich, & either regrill under presses in the pan, or pop into the oven under the broiler until the cheese melts. Heaven. Can't wait for St. Pat's Day!!!