This post might look to you like any other normal Rampant Cuisine post but, in reality, you are looking at our moment of triumph. I say this because this is our second attempt at a reuben sandwich and our first try ended in spectacular failure. We wanted to make everything from scratch. This included the corned beef, rye bread, thousand island dressing, and even the sauerkraut. Lofty goals, right? Well here is how it turned out:
1. After spending $35 on beef brisket our corned beef somehow turned out tougher than shoe leather.
2. Nathan accidentally turned the oven off while the rye bread was baking and as a result it came out understandably, well, weird. The recipe I used also contained molasses and it was just too sweet for a Reuben sandwich.
3. The sauerkraut, oh the sauerkraut. We ended up with what can only be described as salty, soggy cabbage. I figured that since Nathan has Polish ancestry that making sauerkraut would be in his blood but apparently not… We didn’t even bother trying to make it again this time.
Nathan and I sat and disconsolately chewed our shockingly subpar Reuben sandwiches and promised ourselves that we would try again. After several months we mustered enough courage for a second attempt and we did it! The corned beef took WAY longer than it should have to get tender (the recipe said 2 ½-3 hours and ours took closer to 6!?!) but the final product was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten! We think the issue with the beef was that the recipe said to simmer on low and the low setting on our range does not provide enough heat for a healthy simmer. When we figured this out, we turned the heat up to around medium and the beef cooked and finally got tender after that. The rye bread was light and perfectly chewy and (unlike our first attempt) had the trademark sour brininess that I was hoping for. In addition to the russian dressing, we topped our sandwiches with copious amounts of spicy horseradish and we were in a triumphant sandwich euphoria that erased our first failure from our memory.
Ah, victory has never tasted so… sour?
Let me start by saying that this sandwich begged to be eaten with a beer so the wine started at a disadvantage. Honestly, after taking a bite of the Reuben I didn’t even want any wine?!? I just wanted to steal sips of Nathan’s beer. That being said, this just wasn’t a great pairing. It was too sticky sweet and juicy for the Reuben and something lighter and drier (but still fruity!) would have been much more successful. At least the sandwich and the beer made up for it!
The first time we tried to make our homemade reuben I actually bought Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye IPA to pair it with… how could you go wrong with a rye beer and a sandwich with rye bread!? I still think it would have been a great pairing but my go-to beer store disappointingly didn’t have any this time around (or any other rye beer for that matter) so I went with this imperial IPA. I suppose it was meant to be because this pairing was amazing! The bitter hops and caramel malts both served to cut through the salty, sour, and spicy flavors in their own way. The contrasting flavors that make the reuben sandwich so successful were only made better by adding a few more well balanced flavors! Even without a reuben to eat with this beer it is still a great imperial style IPA. The rich malt flavors help to keep the bitter hops under control and results in a strong but drinkable beer.
Based on this recipe
2 quarts water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons saltpeter
1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds ice
1 (4 to 5 pound) beef brisket, trimmed
1 small onion, quartered
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1. Place the water into a large 6 to 8 quart stockpot along with salt, sugar, saltpeter, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves and ginger. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
2. Remove from the heat and add the ice. Stir until the ice has melted. If necessary, place the brine into the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 45 degrees F.
3. Once it has cooled, place the brisket in a 2-gallon zip top bag and add the brine. Seal and lay flat inside a container, cover and place in the refrigerator for 10 days. Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and stir the brine.
4. After 10 days, remove from the brine and rinse well under cool water. Place the brisket into a pot just large enough to hold the meat, add the onion, carrot and celery and cover with water by 1-inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or medium, cover and gently simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender (check to make sure that the water is simmering but that it isn’t boiling too much!)
5. Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain.
Sandwich Rye Bread
Based on this recipe
1 1/2 packets “highly active” active dry yeast; or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2/3 cup to 7/8 cup lukewarm water*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup dill pickle juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 1/3 cups rye flour
*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
1. Dissolve the yeast in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, till it becomes puffy. If you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
2. Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the remaining ingredients, and mix till clumps form; the dough may seem dry at this point. Let it rest for 20 minutes, for the flour to start to absorb the liquid.
3. Knead the dough—by mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—to make a stiff, but fairly smooth dough. It’ll take about 7 minutes in a stand mixer at second speed, using the dough hook. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl; if it doesn’t sprinkle in a bit more all-purpose flour. We don’t recommend kneading this dough by hand, as it’s hard to develop the gluten sufficiently. If you DO knead by hand, realize that the dough will take longer to rise, and won’t rise as high.
4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise till it’s puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. It may or may not have doubled in bulk, but it definitely will have expanded.
5. Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan (for a stiffer dough), or 9″ x 5″ loaf pan (for a slacker dough). Press it to the edges of the pan, and flatten the top.
6. Tent the pan with greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaf to rise till it’s crowned about 1″ to 1 1/2″ over the edge of the pan, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
7. Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Tent it lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 20 minutes. When done the bread will be golden brown, and its internal temperature will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
8. Remove the bread from the oven, wait 5 minutes, remove it from the pan, and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing. Store for up to a week at cool room temperature
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
1. Combine all ingredients.
Reuben Sandwich for 1
2 slices rye bread
1-2 slices cheese (swiss, havarti or muenster)
Corned beef brisket, thinly sliced
Deli style canned sauerkraut, to taste
About 1 Tbs. Russian Dressing
(We also put dill pickle rounds and horseradish on our sandwiches)
1. Top a slice of rye bread with a slice of cheese, and place your desired amount of corned beef over the cheese.
2. Using paper towels, squeeze out excess moisture from the sauerkraut. Put as much sauerkraut as you want on top of the corned beef.
3. Finish the sandwich with about one tablespoon of Russian dressing, and pickles or horseradish.
4. Top with a second slice of bread and enjoy. Grill the sandwich if desired.