Mar 16, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Open-Faced Reubens

In honor of St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, here's our family's favorite take on the classic corned beef sandwich. (We're not big fans of the traditional corned beef and cabbage dishes that are often associated with the day.)  Since it is made with Italian or French bread, it should probably be referred to as "Reuben-esque."  Just don't confuse it with Rubenesque paintings, although the sandwich, much like many of Peter Paul Rubens' subjects, is unabashedly large and nekkid (errr, open-faced.)

Rubens definitely didn't believe
in airbrushing his models
The original recipe uses a full-size loaf of bread. It is big enough to feed 4-6 or more, but you can scale it back by using a smaller loaf. It lacks the characteristic flavor of rye bread, but the trade-off is a softer sandwich, since rye is typically a little dry and chewy.  Our family prefers Italian or French, and a little caraway can give it that Reuben flavor without overpowering the rest of the sandwich ingredients.

Open-Faced Reuben Sandwich

1 loaf French bread, sliced horizontally
Thousand Island or Russian dressing (or mayonnaise and Dijon mustard to taste)
1 pound deli corned beef, sliced thin
1/2 pound Swiss cheese, sliced
1 small can sauerkraut, drained
caraway seeds (optional)

Start broiler. Thinly spread both halves of the bread with dressing, or substitute mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Place bread under broiler and allow the dressing to bubble and outside edges to toast slightly.

Remove from oven. Divide corned beef between the two halves and layer it evenly on the bread. Spread half of sauerkraut on each half and sprinkle with a little caraway if desired; top with cheese slices to cover.

Place under broiler and broil for 5-7 minutes or until bubbly hot all the way through. Slice into 2-inch thick wedges and enjoy with some garlicky pickle wedges, potato or pasta salad, or thin and crispy chips.

Ever wonder where the classic grilled Reuben got its name?  Apparently it was an early 1900s creation of Arnold Reuben, who owned a deli near Broadway in New York City.

Happy wearin' o' the green!