Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reuben sandwich

I managed to resist eating my homemade corned beef before Peter got back from his trip. Yesterday we made Reuben sandwiches. I realized on Tuesday that I needed to get Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, two of the 4 ingredients in a traditional Reuben along with Russian dressing.

Remembering the partial head of napa cabbage in the fridge, I consulted the book “Charcuterie,” a compendium of all things cured. I was dismayed to find that the recipe for sauerkraut called for a 3-week cure. I had 24 hours! So I improvised.

Following the basic plan the book gave me I shredded the cabbage, ending up with only about 2 cups, enough surely for 2 days of Reubens. The cabbage was tossed in a glass bowl with a generous amount of salt and about ½ tsp of caraway seeds. That was it – covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I stirred it up a couple of times over the next day. When I tasted it it was pleasantly sour and salty. I rinsed it off and dried it as well as possible. It worked very well in the sandwich.

I am not anal retentive enough to want to extend my homemade repertoire into the fields of bread and cheese making. Those items came from the supermarket.

Peter whipped up a very plausible Russian dressing using just mayo and ketchup. The bread was a new Safeway product, packaged panini bread. It wasn’t as good as what the deli counter has sold me a couple of times, but it was fine when grilled.

Reuben sandwiches
2 slices panini bread
4 slices Swiss cheese
generous helping of corned beef
Russian dressing
Homemade sauerkraut
1 tbsp butter

Layer the sandwich thusly so that it will hold together when you flip it. Of course I’m assuming that most folks, like us, don’t have a dedicated panini press – that’s why you gotta turn it.
Russian dressing, half the cheese, corned beef, sauerkraut, the remaining cheese.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and rub a stick of butter onto it where the sandwich will go. Place the sandwich in the pan. Cover with a piece of foil and weight it with a teakettle. Cook for 4 minutes. Set the sandwich aside while you rub the pan with more butter. Return it to the pan, turned over, for 3 more minutes weighted. Cut across the sandwich to make 2 portions.

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