Those of you that know me, know that I watch a lot of Gilmore Girls. Well. Let’s be honest, quite a bit of it, actually I have seen each episode over a dozen or two dozen times. So it’s no surprise to me that while I was enjoying a grilled reuben sandwich, the episode of Gilmore Girls where a pickle train derailed in Stars Hollow, was playing. Why is this important? Because, Sookie makes her own pastrami to combat the pickle smell and Lorelai tells her the smell that makes her happy reminded her of Milton Berle, Broadway Danny Rose and the Carnegie Deli!
A friend of ours came over to enjoy reubens with us – once I told her my plans to make my own corned beef, she became very excited at the prospect of having her own reubens to satisfy a lingering craving for them. So, we threw a little lunch party in the kitchen for four. Mei, Patella, our friend and me. She brought the sauerkraut, and we had bought a loaf of rye bread at the market a few days before, so with those two things, swiss cheese and the corned beef cooking away, we were soon ready to grill some sandwiches. The only thing that would have made it better would have grilling the sandwich on a cast iron skillet - but I suppose we would have to own one first!
According to Saveur, in their April issue – the Sandwich Issue, there is an article called “Say My Name: One Man’s Quest for Sanwich Immortality” by Daniel Pinkwater; in which, the reuben is discussed. There is much debate over the origin of the reuben sandwich. Some say that it was “Reuben Kulakofsky, a grocer from Omaha,” while others say that it was ”Arnold Reuben, who owned a famous restaruant called Reuben’s in New York during the 1900s.” It is said that Arnold Reuben was busy making sandiwches based on “the tastes of celebrity patrons, including Al Johson (raw meat, raw egg, chopped onion), Frank Sinatra (cream cheese, bar-le-duc currant jelly, tongue, sweet pickle), Elvis (peanut butter, banana, bacon – fried in butter) and Milton Berle (cream cheese, turkey, bar-le-duc).
The first part of making the reuben was the corned beef, the only challenge left to hurdle was making the russian dressing. But a quick note on the wrong cut of meat that we made the corned beef with? We had to cut thin slices against the grain to make the sandwich easier to eat – I’m definantly going to be making more corned beef and stockpiling it to make sandwiches out of! As luck would have it, in the same issue of Saveur, there was a recipe for russian dressing, which can be found below. We adapted it just a bit by adding a teaspoon of garlic powder, to balance out the Heinz chili sauce we used which tasted more like tomatoes than chilies. Other than that, it was perfect!! My friend was using Thousand Island mixed with other things to try and achieve a similar flavor, but this was unanimously decided to be the closest to authentic russian dressing and was just as satisfying! Even though the sauerkraut was canned, we grilled it to warm it up and brown it slightly and it actually tasted pretty good! Usually I’m not a fan of sauerkraut, so this was pretty good for me. I think next time I might try to make my own swirly pumpernickel rye bread and maybe even some sauerkraut? You never know!!
Hope you enjoy your own reubens! They were so tasty we had two each! In one sitting!
- 1/2 C mayo
- 2 tsp chili sauce (American)
- 3 TBS finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 tsp finely grated yellow onion
- 1 tsp drained, prepared horseradish
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- rye bread, sliced
- swiss cheese, sliced
- 2 C drained saurkraut
- 1 lb thinly sliced corned beef
Put the mayo, chili sauce, parsley, onion, horseradish, worcestershire, garlic, salt and pepper (to taste), in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. Set the dressing aside.
Butter the rye bread and flip it over, spread each side with 1 TBS of dressing. Top four slices of rye with 2 slices of swiss cheese, 1/2 C of sauerkraut and 1/4 lb of corned beef. Top each with slice of bread, dressing side down.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. In batches, add the sandwiches in a single layer. Cook, flipping once and occassionally pressing the sandwich down with a wide spatula until they are golden brown and crisp on both sides, about ten minutes total.
Serve wtih a side of dill pickles.
*found and adapted from Saveur*