Making a Great Reuben

Making a Great Reuben

I practically grew up in delicatessens, so I know my way around a good Reuben. There are some tricks to making them at home, even if they are never quite as good as you can get at your local deli. If you’ve never had a Reuben, I recommend you try one. Just be careful asking for them at a Jewish deli, as those that keep to their strict dietary rules won’t make ‘em. Corned beef + swiss cheese = nope.

It’s not a complicated sandwich, in theory: corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on some toasted rye bread. The reason delis can make such good Reubens is in the quality of the ingredients. It can be hard to match, but it is always worth a try.

Start with good rye bread. Read the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce anything in it, put it back. Pure rye bread will have rye flour and no wheat flour. That is some serious rye. If it says “unseeded,” that typically means there is no caraway (caraway is added as a natural anti-gas agent).

The next thing is real important: the corned beef. Now, you can make your own corned beef if you have a lot of time on your hands – it involves seasoning beef and letting it rest for a week in the fridge, then cooking it in a Dutch Oven for 10 hours. For the rest of us, we can order it online or ask for it at a local deli (ask them to slice it for you). If you strike out with the corned beef, you can always get some pastrami.

Then there’s the rest: swiss cheese (get it from the deli when you get the corned beef), sauerkraut, and Russian dressing. Once you’ve got all that stuff, you’re ready to make the sandwich.

Start by warming up the corned beef and the sauerkraut. Everything in a Reuben should be warm. It’s a melt, after all. And since a Reuben is a melt, the bread needs to be toasted. Butter one side of each piece of bread and toast it in a cast iron skillet. Flip it when it reaches your level of doneness so you can toast the other side. Then you layer the ingredients:

  1. Put Russian dressing on each piece of bread.
  2. Next, add the corned beef.
  3. On top of that goes the sauerkraut.
  4. Last, add swiss cheese on top of that.

Once you have everything on there, put it in the oven for a few minutes to melt the swiss cheese. This step is important. Take the sandwich out and put it together. The cheese will melt together and help keep the sandwich together while you eat it. And there you have it, a good Reuben.