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~ Bring on the Reuben Sliders.. and some Beer too! ~

PICT1393The classic Reuben sandwich consists of rye bread, Swiss cheese, thinly sliced/shaved corned beef, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.  The Rachel sandwich is a variation that substitutes pastrami for the corned beef, coleslaw for the sauerkraut and Thousand Island for the Russian dressing.  Someone, somewhere, decided turkey would be a viable substitute for corned beef or pastrami when making a Rachel, so, if turkey is your thing, order your Rachel that way!

Foundingfathers As you know, I often like to do a little research about the history of the recipes I share with you.  I thought the story behind the classic Reuben would be interesting and straight-forward: Most likely named after someone named Reuben who accidentally put some sauerkraut on a corned beef sandwich and made history.  I was wrong. Official claim to the name of this sandwich has been in dispute for 90+ years. In my opinion, both claims seem to have some share in its name, but I lean towards Claim to Fame #1. You be your own judge and jury:

Claim to Fame #1:  Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian grocer from Omaha created a sandwich consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on Russian rye bread for his poker buddies.  From 1920-1935, "the committee" as they called themselves, played weekly poker at The Blackstone Hotel.  The hotel's owner, Charles Schimmel was a member of the group. Schimmel put the sandwich on the hotel's lunch menu and named if after its creator, "Reuben". In 1956, Fern Snider, a former waitress at the Blackstone entered "The Reuben" in a national sandwich competition and won.  I, for one, am grateful to Fern for doing that!

PICT4225 Claim to Fame #2:  Arnold Reuben, a German owner of Reuben's Delicatessen in New York City, invented the "Reuben's Special" in 1914. Late one night, a leading lady of Charlie Chaplin came into the deli and said, "Reuben, make me a sandwich.  I'm so hungry I could eat a brick." The sandwich he presented to her consisted of:  rye bread, Virginia ham, roast turkey, Swiss cheese, cole slaw and his own house-made Russian dressing.  Upon tasting it, the lady said, "Reuben, this is the best sandwich I ever ate.  You should call it the Annette Seelos Special." Reuben replied, "The hell I will, I'm calling it the Reuben's Special"!  (Note:  This is a picture of my version of another well-known sandwich, which has is origin in East Orange, NJ.  It is quite hearty and very similar to Reuben's Special. To read another great sandwich story and my recipe for ~ Another Sloppy Joe?  There is One? You Betcha! ~, click into Categories 2 or 10!).

PICT1321A bit about sauerkraut:  Although sauerkraut (German for "sour cabbage") is thought of as a German invention, Chinese laborers building The Great Wall of China over 2,000 years ago ate it as standard fare.  Chinese sauerkraut, made from shredded cabbage fermented in rice wine, eventually found its way to Europe, where the Germans and Alsatians adopted it as a favorite staple. Today's sauerkraut is made in the same manner: by combining shredded cabbage, salt and some spices, then allowing the mixture to ferment.  It is packaged in jars and cans and is found in almost every supermarket.  The best sauerkraut is sold by the pound in delicatessens, as well as in the refrigerated section of grocery stores, where it is packaged in plastic bags.  All sauerkraut should be rinsed in cold water before being cooked in casseroles, served as a side-dish, or, topping  sandwiches... like the famous Reuben!

PICT1316For the Slider Sandwiches and Sauerkraut:

2  12-ounce loaves, Pepperidge Farm, Party, Jewish Rye bread slices

1/2  pound Havarti cheese, w/caraway seeds, coarsely grated

1  pound thinly sliced corned beef, sliced into 1/4"-1/2" strips

1  pound deli-style sauerkraut

1  cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apple, more or less, about 1 apple

1/2  cup diced yellow or sweet onion

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick butter)

1  teaspoon Jane's Original Krazy Mixed-Up Salt, or sea salt to taste

1  teaspoon Jane's Original Krazy Mixed-Up Pepper, or freshly ground peppercorn blend to taste

1/4  teaspoon white pepper

2 sticks additional butter, for grilling sandwiches

PICT1345 For the "Russian" Dressing:

Note:  Russian and Thousand Island dressings are similar, with Russian dressing being more Ketchup-y. I'll share my made-from-scratch versions with you at some point in time, but today I'd much rather share my favorite recipe for my super-easy Russian dressing:

3/4  cup Thousand Island Dressing, your favorite brand

1/2  cup Heinz chili sauce

PICT1351 Stir together. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while preparing the sauerkraut and sandwiches. Refrigerate any leftovers.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.  To prepare the sauerkraut:

PICT1329 ~ Step 1.  Place the sauerkraut in a colander.  Thoroughly rinse it under cold water.  Allow it to drain for about 15  minutes.  Dice the apple and onion as directed.  For these sliders, I like to prep a small, slightly larger than 1/4" dice.  Set aside.

~ Step 2.  In a large skillet, melt butter over low heat.  Stir in Jane's salt, pepper and white pepper.  Add the diced apple and onion.

PICT1331 ~ Step 3.  Adjust heat to saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

PICT1336 Add the 'kraut and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover skillet and set aside.

PICT1362 To assemble and "grill" the sliders:

~ Step 1.  Using a hand-held box grater, grate the cheese as directed. Using a chef's knife, slice the corned beef into strips.

Note:  To this point, the sauerkraut, the cheese and the meat can all be prepped and refrigerated 1 day ahead of time.

PICT1369 ~ Step 2.  In a 12" nonstick skillet, melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter over low heat.  Add 12 bread slices.  Increase heat slightly, to gently fry, until slices are golden brown on both sides, about 45-60 seconds per side.  Transfer bread to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  

Wipe out the skillet and repeat this process 3 more times with the remaining butter and bread slices.

PICT1385 ~ Step 3.  On each of two 12" x 9" baking pans that have been lined with parchment paper:

Arrange 12 slices of bread.  In the following order, top with:  cheese, corned beef and sauerkraut.





~ Step 4.  Top each slider with a bread slice and tightly seal each pan with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Note:  Sliders can be assembled 1-2 hours prior to heating and serving.  FYI, I place them on two smaller pans rather than one large one so I have the option of baking and serving them at two intervals!

~ Step 5.  Bake sliders on center rack of preheated 300 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sliders are heated through.  Remove from oven.  Lift the top slice of bread from each sandwich, drizzle with Russian dressing and serve immediately, planning on 2-3 sliders per person:

PICT1411Bring on the Reuben Sliders... and some Beer too!:  Recipe yields 24 sliders and 1 1/2 cups of Russian dressing.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container; colander; cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides & lid, or large skillet w/lid; large spoon; hand-held box grater; 12" nonstick skillet; 2, 12" x 9" baking pans; parchment paper; aluminum foil

PICT1279 Cook's Note:  Besides a frosty mug of beer, serve these sliders in true Oktoberfest tradition with my recipe for ~ Pretty in Pink:  Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Eggs ~, which can be found in Categories 1, 4 & 12!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


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