The perfect Reuben sandwich starts with the perfect ingredients: top quality corned beef, Swiss cheese, crunchy sauerkraut, fresh rye bread and Thousand Island dressing to top it off. Remember to look for healthier organic ingredients, where available.
Some may argue that Reuben sandwiches may also contain pastrami in place of the corned beef or coleslaw in place of the sauerkraut, but that is incorrect. That sandwich is called the Rachel and though quite pleasing – is certainly no Reuben.
Emerging in America in the 1920’s, the origins of this savory-and-sour grilled sandwich are debated, but its deliciousness could never be. Whether the Reuben was spawned by members of weekly poker ring in Omaha Nebraska or created for a hungry Broadway starlet in a German delicatessen in New York City, it is in your kitchen tonight that this sandwich star will have its finest performance yet.
THE PERFECT REUBEN INGREDIENTS:
1. Corned Beef. Buy the highest quality corned beef you can find at your grocer’s deli and have it sliced thin. Corned beef is brine-cured beef that originated in Ireland, and the “corns” are the grains of salt used to cure the beef, which is usually a brisket cut.
2. Swiss Cheese. Organic, aged Swiss cheese is the way to go. Baby Swiss will also work but the older, stouter cheese gives a bigger kick to go with the hearty meat and bread.
3. Sauerkraut. Obviously, homemade is best. However if you don’t have time to whip up a batch of freshly fermented cabbage slaw, store-bought is a good substitute – just stick to the sauerkraut from the refrigerated section, as it is highly superior to the canned variety, and you don't want your food exposed to BPA (bisphenol A).
4. Rye Bread. An artisan marble rye fresh from your local bakery makes a prettier sandwich, although some prefer a solid dark rye loaf, which has a stronger rye taste. Whichever you choose, make sure that you have it sliced slightly thicker than normal sandwich bread so it can handle the heavy meat and sauerkraut.
5. Thousand Island Dressing. A variant of Russian dressing, Thousand Island adds more minced vegetables such as pickles, peppers, olives and onions to the tomato-mayonnaise base, be sure to choose a healthier organic version that is free of chemicals, preservatives and other unwanted ingredients traditionally found in store bought salad dressings.
PAN FRY THE PERFECT REUBEN:
Creating your perfect Reuben will depend on your personal sandwich preferences. Some people prefer a saucy Reuben with extra dressing and others like to pile on the meat and cheese. Adjust the proportions on this recipe accordingly until you have found your perfect combination!
1. Start with a large cast iron skillet and melt a fat pat of butter in it. Place two slices of rye bread in the skillet, sopping up the butter until they are brown and crispy on the bottom. Flip them, adding more butter to the pan if necessary.
2. Cover one slice of bread with Swiss cheese, or go all out and cheese up both slices of bread for an extra gooey sandwich.
3. As the cheese is melting, push the slices of bread to the edge of the skillet. Slice by slice, heat up your corned beef on the hot griddle. It will steam, shrink slightly and lose a bit of the fat – and be perfectly hot and ready for your Reuben. Pile up the meat on the naked slice of bread until you have about a half-inch of meat- or more!
4. Once the corned beef is taken care of, it’s time for the sauerkraut. Where you grilled the meat, now grill the sauerkraut, draining it a bit first (the steam will do the rest). This prevents your sandwich from getting soggy and keeps everything nice and hot. Pile the sauerkraut on top of the side without the meat.
5. Top the sauerkraut with a fair dollop of dressing, then close the whole thing together on the grill with a spatula, leaving it to cook together for just a couple more minutes.
6. Slice diagonally and enjoy with dill pickles, salt & vinegar potato chips and fruit punch!
Looking for another delicious sandwich to make? Try our Grass-Fed Beef Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions, Horseradish Cream & Arugula.