There are several stories as to where the Reuben came from. I tend to believe that it is the food baby of Arnold Reuben, proprietor of Rueben’s Delicatessen Without a doubt the undisputed king of sandwiches.
Bread: How can you go wrong with a nice slice of Jewish Rye? Quick answer: You can’t! Even better, in my humble opinion is when the Reuben is made with the marble rye giving the sandwich that sweet molasses flavor that pumpernickel brings to the table. Purists will tell you that pumpernickel on a Reuben is a sin, but to each his own. Either way, this bread is undeniably fantastic!
Meat: In this case, the meat is meat. However, it isn’t just any meat, it’s corned beef. The key to any corned beef is a good brine. In the case of the Reuben, the key is the thinly sliced corned beef. For the sake of argument, you must also consider the Swiss cheese is also part of the meat. Let’s just say the marriage between corned beef and Swiss cheese is perfect.
Accompaniments: So in this case, as in most, the accompaniments are crucial to the building of the sandwich. As mentioned before, the Swiss is on par with the corned beef, but you could really argue that any of the four staple ingredients to a Reuben are equally important to the overall taste and experience. The sauerkraut not only brings a bit of nutritional value to the table, it also adds a sour note that is unmatched by any other sandwich accouterment. The Russian dressing, is where things get interesting. If you want a great Reuben, you can’t try to pass off bottled 1,000 Island dressing as a homemade Russian. If you do, you should have your sandwich card permanently revoked. Russian dressing must be homemade, and prepared with precise ratios, no wiggle room. This recipe from Martha Stewart is actually fantastic, the Worcestershire sauce is the key!
Method: The method of the Reuben, while simple is essential. While these five ingredients (Rye, Corned beef, Swiss, Sauerkraut, and Russian Dressing) together make for a fantastic treat cold. A Reuben, is not the sandwich it was created to be unless the entire sandwich is grilled on a flat top grill. It has to be a flat top grill, and it must be done with butter. In my humble opinion, there is no substitute for this method, just as there is no substitute for the Reuben sandwich!