Monday, September 13, 2010

The Reuben Sandwich

The best sandwich in the world is a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. It's an empirical fact. Logically, it follows then that The Reuben is one of the best sandwiches in the world. It's simple fare: savoury corned beef, gooey swiss cheese, salty sauerkraut and tangy russian dressing on crunchy grilled rye bread. When those simple ingredients come together, it becomes something close to culinary heaven. There are couple of stories about the creation of the Reuben, but I figure it has to have been born in NYC. Some say Reuben, founder of Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in New York, made the first Reuben Sandwich in 1914, as chronicled by Craig Claiborne of the New York Times:
"The year was 1914. Late one evening a leading lady of actor Charlie Chaplin came into the restaurant and said, 'Reuben, make me a sandwich, I'm so hungry I could eat a brick.' He took a loaf of rye bread, cut two slices and stacked one piece with sliced Virginia ham, roast turkey, and imported Swiss cheese, topped off with coleslaw and lots of Reuben's special Russian dressing and the second slice of bread. He served it to the lady who said, 'Gee, Reuben, this is the best sandwich I ever ate, you ought to call it an Annette Seelos Special.' To which he replied, 'Like hell I will, I'll call it a Reuben's Special.'"
On the other hand, some cite Reuben Kay, a wholesale grocer in Omaha, Nebraska—who supposedly made the eponymous sandwich for poker games at the Blackstone Hotel in the 1920s—as its creator. I don't really care where it came from, as Kelsey says "it's bloody marvelous".

The Reuben Sandwich

4 tbsp butter, softened
8 slices onion caraway rye bread
8 slices Swiss cheese
3/4 lb corned beef, thinly sliced
1/2 lb sauerkraut 
1/4 cup Russian Dressing

Russian Dressing
(Makes one-half cup)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Butter generously one side of four slices of bread, and place the slices buttered-side down on a flat surface. Top each with a slice of Swiss cheese, and then divide half of the corned beef among them.
Using paper towels, squeeze out excess moisture from the sauerkraut. Divide the sauerkraut among the sandwiches, and top each with one tablespoon of Russian dressing. Add another layer of corned beef and a second slice of Swiss cheese to each sandwich. Top with the remaining bread slices; butter the side facing out.
Preheat a griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Cook the sandwiches on one side until the bread is golden brown. Use a spatula to carefully flip the sandwiches over and finish cooking on the second side. Cut the sandwiches in half before serving.
Make 4 sandwiches.