I never liked reuben sandwiches until I met my husband. I don’t even think I heard of them until Dan introduced them to me. At first I couldn’t wrap my mind around sauerkraut and thousand island dressing on corned beef. That just read a mess of strong flavors and was the opposite of harmonious. I don’t know how it happened, but just like he eventually got me to date him, he eventually got me to taste one of these sandwiches and it changed me. In a good way. Like Remy, from Ratatouille, as he describes the magic that occurs when bold ingredients are combined, fireworks were flying!
I’ve been in love with this simple sandwich from first bite. In case you were wondering, I fell in love with my husband on our first date, too! Good things come to those who wait, right?
There is one problem though — when you order a reuben at a deli or restaurant, you really don’t know what you are going to get. Sure, you know your sandwich will have the usual combination of ingredients, but will the kraut to corned beef ratio be acceptable? Will it be super greasy? And the worst of all unanswerable questions…will it be soggy?
The last time Dan and I visited our old stomping grounds in Chicago, we stopped by our favorite deli. Things have changed a lot there in the last ten years, but our deli has survived. Whew! We had all the kids in the car and there was absolutely no parking, so he double parked and I ran in for our favorite sandwich. The deli that was just starting out when we lived in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village was now jumping. It is now double the size, has tons of seating, and a huge menu. I had to wait quite some time for two reubens, but my memory told me they would be worth the wait. Unfortunately, my memories evaporated when I jumped back in the car and we started to eat. My favorite sandwich was complete mush and fell apart after a couple bites.
I knew I could make this sandwich myself, and make it better than the above establishment (which will remain nameless). I was right, and you can make this sandwich, too. No more over-priced deli sandwiches, friends. It’s better at home!
What you need to make three tasty reubens:
6 slices of good quality rye bread from your grocery store bakery
thinly sliced corned beef from the deli (about 1/3 of a pound for two or three sandwiches)
6 slices of swiss cheese
1/2 jar of sauerkraut
1 Tbs mayo
1 tsp ketchup
salt and pepper
1 small kosher pickle, diced small
2 Tbs butter, softened
Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread and heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Once your pan is heated, place three slices of bread, butter side down, on your pan and grill them until they are golden.
Remove these pieces of bread and place your other three slices in the pan, butter side down. While you are grilling these pieces of bread, put two slices of swiss cheese on each piece and evenly divide your corned beef on top of the cheese. Grill these until the bread is golden and the cheese starts melting, watching to make sure the heat isn’t too high. If your bread is grilling too quickly, turn down the temperature a bit.
Once you see your cheese starting to melt, put about 3 tablespoons of sauerkraut on top of each layer of corned beef.
Spread your homemade thousand island dressing on the unbuttered side of the bread you grilled earlier, evenly dividing it between the three slices. Place these slices, dressing side down, on top of your other sandwich halves.
Grill for a couple of minutes more and carefully flip your sandwiches to heat the other side again. Once you grill this side a bit more, remove from the pan and slice each sandwich on the diagonal.
Plate the sandwiches with the cheese and corned beef side on the bottom if they are not going to be devoured immediately. This will help prevent them from becoming soggy.
Once you try these you will probably never order another reuben from a deli again. They just can’t compare to homemade.