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.
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 with 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 more. 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 should 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 would always eat 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 will need more than one napkin.
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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Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday
SS&GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter