Sunday, March 20, 2011
New York Reuben
Apparently no one knows where the Reuben sandwich originated. A quick web search will tell you that there are multiple stories of this sandwich's origin. Even the Random House College Dictionary might be incorrect. After some light reading I have concluded that the Reuben sandwich was created some time between 1914 and 1956, in either Nebraska or New York, by a man with either the first or last name of Reuben. Possibly.
Regardless, it's a delicious sandwich. My history with the Reuben sandwich is slightly more definitive. Within the last two years my husband ordered one at a restaurant. After stating that I'd never had a Reuben before, he offered me a bite, which I accepted. It was decent. Sometime later we were on vacation, hungry and traveling through the small town of Arco, Idaho. It was around 9 pm or so, still completely light out, and the entire town had gone to bed. One small deli remained open. That night we split a fantastic Reuben sandwich in our hotel room. Almost a year later I have fond memories of our visit with the sweet college girl in sweats that built our sandwich and how that night I added that sandwich to my list of favorite restaurant foods.
This week, however, I added that sandwich to my list of favorite meals to make at home. It was a sandwich so fantastic that I ate until it was gone, despite my full stomach. It was a sandwich so amazing that my husband requested it again. Soon. And our roommate requested it for his birthday. Wow. I'm blushing.
We may all know what a Reuben consists of--it's fairly simple: Rye bread, sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and either Russian or thousand island dressing. For an pretty darn good ingredient ratio, Family Circle does a splendid job breaking it down. I looked at several recipes and theirs was my favorite. Once I figured out how much of what I would need to get, the rest is pretty basic--you can put your own spin on it, or leave it be. Really, there isn't much to alter in a sandwich with so few ingredients, but I made the most of choosing the best ingredients to up my sandwich's yum factor. For this I headed to Plowboys in Fountain Valley, home of my favorite butcher counter, deli counter and produce department. The corned beef was lean, the Boar's Head Gold Label Swiss was just the right strength, and the sauerkraut was New York style (wahatever that means). And since it was St. Patrick's day, I walked out with the last loaf of rye bread. On a side note, I am told that Russian rye isn't as strong as Jewish rye, so depending on your taste buds, one may make a better sandwich than the other. My lucky loaf was Russian and we were very pleased with it, as it was a more milder taste than what we expected.
Now for building the sandwich ... since I based mine on the Family Circle recipe, I'd recommend reading through that first if you want to try this. Then I played it by ear. I used more meat per sandwich, less cheese (although I'd be tempted to add more next time), and more sauerkraut. I toasted two slices of bread for each sandwich, topped one slice with dressing, meat, warmed sauerkraut and cheese, and then toasted them in the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese was melted and bubbly. I then added the second slice of bread for a complete sandwich and served with a side of red potato salad. Yum.