The perfect Reuben sandwich might be in your own kitchen waiting for your personal touch. The classic Reuben sandwich rests between two golden slices of grilled rye bread. Reubens require a hearty bread, like rye, to provide structure and add the perfect balance to the flavors of corned beef and sauerkraut co-mingled in the sandwich.
A lesser bread won't do.
Deli sandwiches are made by experts with practiced hands to keep the flavors in balance so that the first anticipated bite is every bit as good as the luscious aroma that precedes the sandwich. To achieve balance, homemade sandwiches use about one fourth pound of corned beef with drained sauerkraut to prevent the sandwich from becoming soggy.
For me, the perfect Reuben sandwich is made of fresh deli products. If you're going to make a specialty sandwich like the Reuben, you need fresh corned beef from the deli cured the Old World way, rye bread, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. The original Reuben sandwich was made with Russian dressing, though some delis use Thousand Island.
The perfect Reuben can be held in your hands.
The nationally famous Carnegie Deli, known for their 5-inch tall sandwiches, prepares the Reuben as an open-faced sandwich smothered in Swiss cheese. Fans of Carnegie Deli say it's a taste delight, but you have to use utensils. A perfect Reuben to me is one that can be held in my hands while I enjoy it with a deli pickle in the other hand.
Who claims the Reuben? The history of the Reuben sandwich has a few twists and turns with several legends on the original idea for the sandwich. Many lean toward the famous Arnold Reuben founder of Reuben's Restaurant and Delicatessen while others say it was Reuben Kay who invented it.
Perhaps we'll never know who actually invented the original Reuben sandwich, but what we know is the Reuben sandwich is the most ordered sandwich on the menu of many of the world-class delis in the world and you can make it at home.
Basic instructions for making a Reuben sandwich:
Ingredients: Four ounces of corned beef, two slices of Swiss cheese, sauerkraut (to your personal taste), small amount of Russian dressing, and two slices of buttered dark rye bread.
1. Heat a skillet or frying pan on medium low heat. Butter two slices of rye bread.
2. Place on grill and press sandwich down.
3. When the first side of rye is brown and crisp, turn sandwich over. Heat thoroughly and enjoy.
Don't forget the deli pickle on the side.
To simplify grilling, you can use a Panini press, waffle iron, a George Foreman grill or even a toaster oven for your Reuben sandwich. If you'd like to try a no fuss, waffle iron grilled Reuben you'll find the recipe on Emeril's web site and his recipe for Russian dressing on the side bar of the web site.
Is the Reuben fading into the American sunset?
Many people love the Reuben sandwich, but the Old World families owned delis are struggling for survival. Deli chains both Americanized and Jewish are producing foods that are accepted by the American public. Ethnic neighborhood delis are disappearing in the age of fast food and the family owned deli appears to be getting lost in the shuffle.
The Reuben sandwich will survive through the new modern deli chains across the nation but it will lose authenticity. You, however, still have the know-how to make the perfect Reuben sandwich in your own kitchen and in the final analysis, your perfect Reuben is made to your taste and specification.