It’s always dangerous when I find old copies of food magazines around the house. Especially when that magazine is a Saveur and the theme of the issue is the all mighty sandwich. After salivating through the pages for a week, I announced quite boisterously to the Cute Gardener that I would be spending the entire college football season making sandwiches on Saturdays while we loafed in the living room rooting for USC. This would merrily take the place of my normal cooking night because I had visions and grand plans dancing through my brain of sky high Dagwoods, tender Cubanos, tangy muffalettas, proper cream cheese and cucumbers and saucy brats and roasted peppers on all size and shape of fluffy bun.
So this past weekend I opted for the Reuben to grandly debut my pop up delicatessen in our kitchen. What I quickly realized is how intensive a sandwich shop really is. It is easy to take a sandwich for granted when it comes already assembled on a plate, ready to devour in moments with a crunchy side of chips, but when one is making the sandwich that is a different story. For my Reuben, I was sent scrambling to the grocery store for sliced corned beef, high class Swiss, German horseradish, good rye (thank goodness the Ralph’s I chose is in a ritzy neighborhood that demands fresh baked bread from local bakeries alongside the traditional processed, package brands), mayonnaise, sauerkraut, Tabasco, and more. You never realize how many ingredients you are currently out of, or lacking in the first place, until you try to make a noted sandwich from scratch. Who knew that mere smear on bread of a Russian dressing could be so complicated. Now that I had all the fixings, I was ready to make a great Reuben for my mate but wait, what about side dishes. Argh, I also threw some sweet potatoes for baked fries into my cart and headed home.
When it was time to cook, the process was relatively simple and the Reuben turned out really tasty. It was totally worth the trip and the CG even made a nice garden fresh, warm tomato and basil soup to dip the sandwich into which added an extra layer of belly warming unctuousness to the meal. But then when we were done, my stomach started to hurt, thinking of the next Saturday and the sandwich I would have to prepare then. The CG’s head started to hurt as he placed three fourths of a rye bread loaf into the freezer and all my new condiments on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Would we be able to eat all of that loaf in a week to make way for another? We couldn’t simply use rye again when the whole point was a slew of different sandwiches. Where would all the new condiments go that next week’s sandwich would require. Would we ever be able to go through all this new food on a weekly basis?
And so that was that. The sandwich spree ended just as quickly as it had started, falling into the ethers of memory where resides all that has been already eaten.
But at least I conquered the Reuben, savored with a crisp white Riesling, combining three of my favorite things: Jewish deli fare, classy wines, and couch Saturdays with the CG, into one delicious early evening, even if my intentions bit off more than they could chew.
(from Saveur Magazine’s April 2001 issue)
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. American chili sauce 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. finely grated yellow onion
½ tsp. prepared horseradish
¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 tsp. unsalted butter, softened
8 slices rye bread
8 slices Swiss cheese
2 cups drained sauerkraut
1 lb. thinly sliced corned beef
- Whisk together mayonnaise, chili sauce, parsley, onion, horseradish, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set Russian dressing aside.
- Working on a cutting board, spread 1 tsp. butter on each slice of bread; turn over and top with Russian dressing. To 4 of the slices add 2 slices of cheese, ½ cup sauerkraut, and 4 oz. corned beef each. Top each with remaining bread slices.
- 3. Heat a 12″ skillet over medium heat, and working in batches, add sandwiches. Cook, pressing constantly and turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.