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
Recipe type: Main Dish, Sandwiches, Beef
Serves / Yields: 4 Sandwiches
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
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.


Shared on the following Blog Hops:
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31 Responses to Reuben Sandwiches for St. Patrick’s Day

  1. Karen (Back Road Journal) March 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    I always make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. A ruben sandwich is perfect for Sunday afternoon using the left over corned beef.

    • Judy March 17, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      Yes, it does sound perfect for Sunday afternoon–I may have to make another one just for that!

  2. mjskit March 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    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!

    • Judy March 17, 2012 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks MJ, appreciate that. Have a great St. Patty’s Day, yourself!

  3. ChgoJohn March 17, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    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!

    • Judy March 17, 2012 at 8:40 am #

      Thanks, John. I do like cole slaw on a bbq sandwich, but I’m with you, sauerkraut is a must here.

  4. Raymund March 18, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    I would love to bite that sandwich! It so meaty

  5. Pati March 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    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!

    • Judy March 19, 2012 at 6:19 am #

      Aw, thanks friend! What a blessing it is to share food together–it always makes it taste better. :)

  6. April @ The 21st Century Housewife March 19, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    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 March 19, 2012 at 6:22 am #

      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.

  7. sportsglutton March 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    The man in me say that is a sandwich and I must eat it. Unbelievable. :-)

    We’re also sticklers for sauerkraut. Top quality stuff only please.

  8. Geni March 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    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 March 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      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. :)

  9. Elan Dassy March 20, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    Judy may try this same recipe with shredded chicken?

  10. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles March 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Oh boy, Judy… if my Dad was still here, this would be his choice for St-Paddy’s day… he adored smoked meat and this post just makes me smile ear to ear thinking of him :). Thank you!

    • Judy March 21, 2012 at 6:23 am #

      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. :)

  11. Greg March 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    I love Flogging Molly and I haven’t had a good Rueben in ages.

    • Judy March 24, 2012 at 7:26 am #

      I can’t guarantee it, but Flogging Molly makes them taste even better.

  12. Linda March 22, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    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 March 24, 2012 at 7:25 am #

      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. :)

  13. Megan J March 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm #


    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!


    • Judy March 24, 2012 at 7:24 am #

      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!

  14. Heather B. March 31, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    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 April 2, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      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!

  15. April @ The 21st Century Housewife March 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    I’m so glad you included the recipe for Russian dressing with your delicious Reuben sandwich…we can’t get Russian dressing in the UK and I’ve always wanted to try making it :)

  16. Pure Complex March 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I just wanted to let you know that i tried this recipe and I LOVED it. DELISH!

    • Judy Purcell March 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Oh, thanks Kay for letting me know — It makes my heart happy to know that! :)


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