Almost everyone eats corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day even if you're not Irish. I do. Even my Hungarian mother makes corned beef and cabbage every March. But this year I decided to do something different and out of the ordinary for the holiday. This time I'm celebrating St. Patrick's day with the Reuben sandwich, which isn't Irish at all, but the ingredients seem so Irish. I love the Reuben and all sandwiches that include sauerkraut for that matter. The corned beef, sauerkraut, and rye bread combination all make it feel like it was meant to be Irish.
The Reuben was invented by German immigrant Arnold Reuben, who sold the sandwiches at his deli in New York City. The hot sandwiches soon became famous and the classic was born. To this day, you can pretty much find a Reuben anywhere. The secret to a great Reuben is the Russian dressing, which is the traditional sauce—not mustard, ketchup, or mayonnaise. But Russian dressing is in fact made by combining mayonnaise and ketchup. Sometimes horseradish is added for piquancy. It ties together all the components of the sandwich so well.
To make the sandwich, I like to cut my own bread so I can get thick slices. Typically machine-sliced bread is too thin for this hearty sandwich. Instead of spreading the bread with the dressing, I top the sauerkraut with it. This step prevents the bread from getting soggy. Make sure to spread the outside of the sandwich with butter to get a crispy brown crust. This sandwich would also work exceptionally well on Irish soda bread, making it seem even more Irish. I'm spending the Irish holiday with a Reuben and a pint of Guinness. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
2 thick slices rye bread, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices corned beef
1/2 cup sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed
1 tablespoon Russian dressing, recipe follows
Heat a griddle or skillet over medium.
Spread one side of each bread slice with 1 tablespoon butter. Place bread slices buttered side down. Top each with 1 slice cheese and 3 slices corned beef. Mound sauerkraut on one bread slice and top with dressing. Sandwich together both halves, making sure buttered side faces outward. Grill sandwich until bread is brown and cheese is melted, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Cut sandwich in half and serve immediately. Yield: 1 serving.
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, ketchup, and a few dashes Worcestershire sauce. Yield: 1/4 cup
Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, butabove all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for foodon his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.