The Classic Reuben

When most people think of corned beef they may immediately think of “corned beef and cabbage” that is often though of as the epitome of an Irish St. Patricks day. Here’s a fun fact, corned beef and cabbage is not a tradition in Ireland it’s an Irish-American tradition. However the story of corned beef has a lot of twists and turns but makes it’s place after large amounts of immigrants came from Europe and Jewish deli’s started popping up.

Yesterday I wrote about making corned beef at home.  Though it’s not hard to make and doesn’t require any special tools it does take a week to make. The good news is that almost all of the time is the meat wet-curing in the fridge with little to no involvement from you. Even the cooking of it is 3 ½ hours on the stove or in the oven with no interaction from you.

Once you have this amazing meat prepared the best way to enjoy it is in a Reuben. There are a number of stories as to when, where, and who made this tasty sandwich up but however it made it to todays menus I am glad it did. This is the perfect winter sandwich. It’s hot, meaty, gooey, and has just enough tartness to cut through all of it’s rich flavors and it’s piled between delicious rye bread.

To make a Reuben you will need:

  • Sliced Rye Bread
  • Russian Dressing (more well known is using thousand island but trust me and go with the classic Russian Dressing)
  • Sauerkraut (this offers that much needed crunch and tartness to offset all that heavy rich flavor)
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Corned Beef, preferably sliced not shredded or minced


I have a confession I had a hard time sourcing my ingredients for rye bread so I had to go with store bought for these but as always fresh homemade bread is best. If you are interested in making your own rye bread check out Stanley Ginsberg’s The Rye Baker. I will be trying out his Marbled Rye Bread soon so check back for that post.

For the dressing I opted  for Russian Dressing instead of Thousand Island. Russian Dressing is a spicier and more complex flavor. I did some googling and came across this recipe from Zingerman’s:


  • 168 grams Mayonnaise
  • 75 grams Chili Sauce
  • 30 grams Sour Cream
  • 12 grams Curly Parsley, chopped (try not to use too much stem)
  • 50 grams Spanish Onion (I happened to have pickled ramps in my fridge so I used that instead and it turned out great!)
  • 50 grams Dill Pickle, minced (1 whole pickle unless they are large. Dill relish would work too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice, fresh is always best
  • 6 grams grated horseradish (jarred will work too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions: …are you ready for this? Put everything in a bowl and mix well. Done!

Sauerkraut may be something most people turn their nose up to but this is a great way to introduce someone to the flavor and texture as this sandwich has a lot going on. Homemade sauerkraut is easy enough but takes a lot of checking and fussing with. Its essentially nothing more than shredded cabbage and salt. From there you can add whatever flavorings you want. One of my favorites is making a dill flavored version. If this is too much of a project you can find it in most grocery stores now. I would highly recommend going to the refrigerator section and seeing if your store carries any with active probiotics in it. Since sauerkraut is a fermentation of cabbage this is a great source for getting your probiotics with has huge benefit to your health.

To put it all together you want to slather your rye with the dressing. Top it with the corned beef, kraut, and cheese. Then grill it like you would any grilled cheese sandwich. I did this first in my panini press pan which worked great but then I also tried it in my toaster oven. For the toaster oven technique I would recommend toasting the bread first. Then build your sandwich and leaving it open to allow the heat to warm the how thing and melt the cheese.

Depending on how much meat you’re using the toaster oven may not warm the meat enough. Instead I am going to pop the meat into the microwave just to get it warm and then do bread, dressing, kraut, meat on one side and bread dressing cheese on the other and put it in for a final toasting.

However you grill it or toast it this sandwich is worth it in the end!

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