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Monday, March 14, 2011

REUBEN SANDWICH ...for Charcutepalooza March challenge: brining

Better late than never, right?  That was my line of thinking when I decided to join in CharcutepaloozaAfter missing the first two challenges.  I figure I'll play catch-up with the two previous challenges- Duck Prosciutto and the Salt Cure.  

It's kind of great to start with challenge: Brining anyway.  I mean.  I already brine at least once a year (think big, delicious birds), often more...and I actually brined briskets many years back in restaurant-world the week before St. Paddy's Day, so what better place to jump in?  I have a "thing" with needing to eat corned beef on or around the day when everybody is Irish, too.  Plus, my brother has been asking me to make him a Reuben since just before the new year, so...

Armed with a copy of our cherished Charcutepalooza guide, Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn, I got down to the basics.  Ordering my pink salt (or TCM as I learned it).  It's not expensive and there's a great Butcher Supply listed in the sources of this book that is out of Detroit (a mere 3 hour drive), so I didn't have to wait long for it to be delivered.  I ordered a first cut brisket (with some good marbling) from my favorite local butcher and the rest is history.  Fantastic, brined, pink, delicious history.
Once the beef was brined, corned, cooked, cooled...I wrapped it up and let it rest in the fridge for a good day.  During that day I made a loaf of Whole Grain Rye (found here) in anticipation of Reuben-O-Rama!  I had a serious jones goin' on by this point.  I'm not gonna stretch the truth of it and say I made my own sauerkraut.  I mean, it's simple to make and I've made it in the past, but I just didn't fit it in this time.  Same goes for the Swiss (yes, I'm a forger...but I didn't plan far enough in advance for that...and I'm pretty sure my cheeseslut status will not be revoked) and the Thousand Island.  I'm okay with it.
This is my method of making a Reuben.  I always do it the same way.  It's the way we made them on our menu (using aforementioned corned beef in my restaurant days) way back and it's the way I've made them ever since.  Because they're perfect. Mmmm Hmmm.  I said it.  Perfection.  The only little thing I change up is the bread...using different variations of only rye or pumpernickel.
Reuben Sandwich
I don't have exact amounts...just eye it for the amounts of toppings you like on your sandwich...multiply as necessary!

2 slices rye or pumpernickel bread (this version uses Whole Grain rye)
butter, soft
Corned Beef (homemade rocks the house), shaved or sliced as thinly as possible
Swiss cheese, sliced or shredded
Thousand Island dressing

Heat a large (12") cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Butter both sides of the bread slices.  Place both slices in the center of the skillet.  Pile corned beef on one side of the skillet and the sauerkraut on the other, between slices of bread and edges of pan.  Move sauerkraut and corned beef around a bit, so it can heat through and get some irresistible little crisp edges here and there.  When the bread is slightly toasted, flip it to the other side and lay slices or shreds of the cheese on each side to start melting.  Pile hot corned beef on one half and the hot sauerkraut on the other. Drizzle the dressing all over the meat...I like it messy and dripping down my hands.  Carefully flip the sauerkraut half onto the other half.  Finished when both slices of bread are toasty and golden...all of the toppings should just sort of melt and mingle together.  In perfect harmony.