Reuben sandwich

A good Reuben sandwich is filled with corned beef and lots of cheese and grilled to crispy goodness on rye or pumpernickel bread.

A Palatable Pastime
A classic Reuben sandwich stacked with corned beef and cheese on pumpernickle or rye bread.

This week is a big week at meat markets everywhere as it seems they all have corned beef brisket on sale for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

It is a very good time to stock up – and when doing so, one will need to find some recipes for all that beef. Of course, there is always the usual braised corned beef, but sometimes, something a little different, delicious and a bit unexpected is always welcome.

Far from being Irish, the Reuben sandwich has some disputed origins (as usually happens when something really great occurs and it seems everyone wants to take credit). One account has it that Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian immigrant to Omaha, Nebraska, and grocer, created this gem. Another account holds that the German owner of Reuben’s Delicatessen in New York City (Arnold Reuben) created it around 1914. This does seem to be substantiated in part by a magazine article around 1924 mentioning it, but others deny it and say the Reuben from the deli didn’t even have corned beef in it. 

All arguing aside, corned beef on bread and grilled hot can’t be such a far-fetched idea and may have had, in fact, many origins. Who is to say who first put it together? Perhaps it is more important to hope that no one will ever be the last. In time, there will be many incarnations of this sandwich, perhaps made as many different ways as there are stars in the sky. But for now, this is pretty much the basic recipe.

And whether you make it to use up some leftover corned beef, find it a great addition to your football parties, or like a little change of pace for New Year’s food, or just … because! Because it is delicious and in fact, very easy and quick to make. Combined with a cold vegetable salad it makes a simple and satisfying lunch or dinner.

Reuben Sandwich
4 ounces lean thinly sliced deli corned beef

2 (1 ounce) slices swiss cheese

2 slices rye bread

1/3 cup sauerkraut, well drained

1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing (to taste)

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1. Bring corned beef and Swiss cheese to room temperature; squeeze kraut dry then heat until it is warmed to about 120 to 140 degrees F.

2. Butter both sides of bread.

3. Place cheese on bread, then corned beef on each side so the kraut can be in the middle; this helps keep the sandwich dry. Put about a tablespoon of Thousand Island dressing inside the sandwich on the corned beef.

4. Put sandwich together and griddle over med-low heat until crisp and golden, turning once.

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