Saturday, February 25, 2017

A grilled Reuben sandwich …

During the cold winter months, who doesn't love a warm grilled sandwich? Last year, I shared about our adventures with a rather smelly, but tasty grilled cheese sandwich. We've been enjoying these grilled Reuben sandwiches over the past several years, and I thought I would share our recipe as well as the great rye bread recipe we used to make them.
First, a little background on the Reuben sandwich. In short, it is a hot sandwich featuring corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing served between slices of rye bread. Although the Reuben sandwich is regarded as an American sandwich, the exact specifics of its origin are not clearly known. One account attributes it to a Lithuanian-born Jewish grocer in Omaha, Nebraska. Another account attributes it to a German-born Jewish delicatessen owner in New York City. Regardless of which account, if any, is correct, the Reuben is a pretty great sandwich.
First of all, we need to make some rye bread. You can also buy some at the store, but we decided to try our hand at making our own rye bread. 
Rye is a grass that is grown as a grain. It was first domesticated in what is modern-day Turkey. Today, it is predominantly grown in central and eastern Europe. Here is also a quick look at how it compares to other common grains. 

Rye flour can be a bit challenging to find. We found ours at a local grocery store that is known for carrying more specialty-type items. We also found the vital wheat gluten that is included in this recipe at the same store.
Rye Bread:
1/2 cup lukewarm water (approximately 110 degrees)
1/2 dill pickle juice
1 cup rye flour
4 teaspoons sugar
1 package yeast
1/2 cup sour cream
1 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (you can use more or less as desired)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

Now for the steps to make the bread.

  1. Combine the water, dill pickle juice, rye flour and yeast so that they form a soft batter. Allow the mixture to sit for about 20 minutes. This will allow the rye flour to absorb some of the liquid, resulting in a dough that can be kneaded more easily.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. This is where we use the dough hook of our mixer. Allow it to mix together until smooth. A quick note - rye dough tends to be a bit sticky so avoid adding extra flour.
  3. Rub some cooking oil over the dough, cover it, and slow it to rise about 60 to 90 minutes.
  4. After allowing the dough to rise, punch it down in the middle and shape into a loaf. Place into a lightly greased bread pan. 
  5. Cover the loaf and allow it to rise for about 90 minutes. 
  6. Before placing the loaf in the oven to bake, lightly spritz it with water and slash it down the middle, about 1/2 inch deep.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 to 50 minutes.
Here is a picture of our first attempt at baking rye bread. I'd say it turned out rather good.

While the bread is cooling, let's stir up some Russian dressing. It only takes a little extra time and is so much better than what you will buy at the store:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1.5 tablespoons ketchup
1.5 tablespoons horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
salt and pepper to taste
Stir all of these ingredients together.

Now we can slice the bread and assemble the sandwiches. We typically use about 1/4 pound of thinly sliced corned beef for each sandwich. You can use more or less, depending on your preference. Layer the sandwich components in the following order
  1. Slice of rye bread
  2. Thin slice of Swiss cheese
  3. Half of the designated amount of corned beef for the sandwich
  4. Desired amount of sauerkraut - squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can
  5. One tablespoon or so of the Russian dressing
  6. The other half of the designated amount of corned beef for the sandwich
  7. Another thin slice of Swiss cheese
  8. Slice of rye bread. 
They will look something like this with all of the layers in place.

Now it's time to grill them. We have found that buttering the pan, rather than the bread results in a better grilled sandwich. Brown on both sides, serve with deli chips and a dill pickle, and enjoy!