Reuben Sandwiches for St. Patrick’s Day

Flogging Molly set the mood, while fresh baked rye buns were prepped and ready to hold all we had assembled for our Reuben Sandwiches. As I mentioned in the previous post Sprouted Rye Sandwich Buns, from the time the rye flour was ordered I’d been scheming to build a Reuben sandwich in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Although the Irish really consider corned beef an American thing, every layer of this delicious concoction is an international celebration.

It was the best Reuben I had ever eaten. Of course, it was also the first Reuben sandwich I’d ever eaten. How can this be so?

When faced with a choice of sandwiches at a deli, I have always been partial to pastrami and Swiss on rye with brown mustard. I have also never liked corned beef (gasp) because it seemed to have a chemical sort of taste or heavy salt flavor, which is why many people end up rinsing or soaking it in water before cooking. Therefore, I have not been inclined to make a sandwich out of meat I did not care to eat by itself.

Until now.

We began with Sprouted Rye Buns inspired by Jewish rye breads, freshly sliced corned beef brisket warmed with Russian dressing, then piled it high with sauerkraut and melted Emmentaler Swiss. Served with extra dressing, there was not a crumb or stray piece of sauerkraut left on any plate. I am completely in love with the textures and flavors of this sandwich and cannot wait to make them again.

What made the difference?

I opted to try an uncured corned beef brisket from Wellshire Farms. The pickling spices were included in the package, as they often are, though I still added a few vegetables to the water when I boiled it. The flavor was subtle, with bay leaf and allspice undertones and a clean, salty taste. This product uses sea salt and beet juice for color, so it did not stay pink when cooked due to the absence of pink salt (curing salt). More interested in flavor than color, this did not bother me, though it may be a drawback for someone else. I cannot say for sure if it is the pink salt, itself or the amount used in regular corned beef that gives it the harsh flavors I do not like, all I can say is that I liked this product a great deal. Next time I may even try curing my own brisket with this recipe from Nourished Kitchen or one from Cookistry, I like how Donna shows corned beef made both with and without pink salt.

Sauerkraut is not all the same, and like most things food related I can be a wee bit picky about it [Irish accent added for emphasis]. Good sauerkraut has a bright, sour taste, not overly salty or vinegary. It should not be necessary to rinse kraut before you can eat it. The cabbage must be crisp-tender, not mushy or seemingly waterlogged. I can still remember making sauerkraut on the farm growing up. We used an old mandolin-style device from the Middle Ages (or so it seemed) to cut the cabbage and my dad would top each jar with a grape leaf from our garden. As a child, I was not fascinated with gardening and canning and there was even a time I would only eat meat and potatoes (yes, I was a pill at times), but I always ate the sauerkraut.

Thousand Island or Russian dressing is given to debate when it comes to Reuben Sandwiches. After reading the ingredient list of both, I decided Russian dressing would top ours. Emeril came through once again, inspiring the final sauce in the recipe below. With tangy and sweet complexity, this sauce really makes the sandwich—if done right, you’ll need more than one napkin.

Rueben Sandwiches
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish, Sandwiches, Beef
Serves / Yields: 4 Sandwiches
Ingredients
For the corned beef:
  • 2 pounds corned beef brisket, Wellshire Farms brand, uncured
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pink peppercorns, or ½ tablespoon black peppercorns
For the Russian dressing:
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon green onion, white part minced
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle, minced
  • 1 tablespoon celery, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk or heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle Tobasco
  • ½ teaspoon unrefined sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
For the sandwiches:
  • 4 sprouted rye buns -- sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups sauerkraut, any favorite
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
Instructions
For the Corned Beef:
  1. Heat butter in a Dutch oven until hot, add onion, garlic, celery, and peppercorns to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown. Place corned beef on top of vegetables in pot and cover with water to an inch above the beef. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 hours, or until fork tender. Once tender, remove from pot and let rest on a cutting board to cool before slicing. Slice thinly against the grain once cooled and divide into 4 mounds (servings) for sandwiches.
For the Russian Dressing:
  1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, set aside if preparing sandwiches within a few minutes. If made in advance, refrigerate until ready to use.
Preparing the Sandwiches:
  1. Lightly butter the cut side of each bun and set aside. Fold 2 paper towels into a square and set in the bottom of a small bowl. Using a slotted spoon, place approximately 2 cups of sauerkraut in the bowl capturing as little liquid as possible. Let kraut set in bowl to allow paper towel to absorb excess liquid.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet over med heat until hot. Place buttered buns in skillet and toast until golden browned and crisp. Set aside until ready to build the sandwiches.
  3. Place 2 piles of ½ cup servings of sauerkraut in the heated skillet. Along side the kraut, place 2 mounds of meat in the skillet. (A larger pan or griddle can make 4 at a time.) Allow to warm over medium low heat until lightly browned on one side. Carefully turn each pile of kraut over with a spatula, using your hand to guide it over on the other side. Do the same with the mounds of sliced meat. Once turned, place 1 slice of cheese on top of each pile of kraut and pour 2-3 tablespoons of dressing over the meat. Place a lid on over the skillet for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  4. Using a spatula, assemble the sandwich by placing the mound of meat with sauce on a toasted bottom bun. Continue with the kraut and cheese by placing on top of the meat and sauce. Top with the other half of the bun.
  5. Serve with extra sauce at the table.
Notes & Suggestions
Uncured corned beef brisket is unlike regular corned beef, the saltiness is less pronounced and the beef carries a milder flavor. Due to the absence of sodium nitrite, the beef will be brown when cooked rather than pink.

An Irish blessing for good measure:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    This sandwich is making me very, very hungry! WOW! It looks delicious! I just recently have become a big fan of Reuben sandwiches and yours might just be one I have to try. The idea of the sprouted rye rolls was great! Beautiful sandwich! Have a great St. Patty’s Day!

  2. says

    Ah, the beloved Reuben sammich, my favorite! And I love it with sauerkraut. Horror of horrors, I’ve had it served to me with cole slaw instead of kraut! Can you imagine? A great post, Judy, with some fantastic recipes!

  3. Pati says

    Look at the sauce…it was all over my face. Reuben’s are one of my favorite sandwiches. This topped any I have ever had or made. The corned beef was not over salted nor chemically laced…(good job whole foods), but, what truly made this was that sauce.
    Love having you as my friend and neighbor!

  4. says

    What a wonderful sandwich! Reuben sandwiches are one of my favourites and something I always order when I am in the US (they don’t really exist yet over here in the UK as our corned beef is different sadly) and this is a very special Reuben indeed. I love the homemade buns as well!

    • Judy says

      Thanks April. I know what you mean, even from region to region here in the U.S. it can be hard to find things that taste like we remember. If you ever make it to Colorado Springs, I’ll make one just for you.

  5. says

    You have the best buns Judy! Those are hearty and GORGEOUS and that sandwich is making me so hungry. You have one lucky, lucky husband.

    • Judy says

      Thanks for noticing Geni, I have been working out. 😉 Really, thanks, I appreciate you saying so, I keep telling my husband how lucky (spoiled) he is, he agrees. :)

    • Judy says

      Kelly, that is one of the things I love about food–the memories it can hold for us. I’m glad it brought a smile. :)

  6. says

    Judy, I’m saving these for next St. Patty’s Day, but will, of course, have to try it out well before then…hehe!! Love how big and tempting this is!!

    • Judy says

      I had to go buy more corned beef so we could have them again this weekend–I love it when we find new favorite like that. Hope you like them. :)

  7. Megan J says

    Judy!

    Just made the Reuben sandwiches for austin and I… HE LOVED THEM! said it was the best reuben he’s ever had. Also used the pink peppercorns you got us for the wedding 😉

    Thanks and love you!

    Meg

    • Judy says

      Hi Megan! Aw, thank you so much for letting me know, that makes my heart happy! So glad you guys enjoyed them–they have surely become a new favorite around here. Love and blessing to you, sweetie!

  8. Heather B. says

    These look great! I have been wanting a rueben, but do not like to use the ready made dressing. I will definitely serve these for dinner one night his week.

    • Judy says

      Heather, I know what you mean about bottled dressings. I think you’ll like this, but would love to hear from you once you try it–feedback is so helpful when proofing recipes. Have a great week!

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