Building the Perfect Reuben

Ruhlman, how about a "Reuben From Scratch" Challenge?

I’m totally ready for the “Reuben From Scratch” Challenge, when it comes, Ruhlman.  Having a Brine Challenge for Charcutepalooza due the same week as St. Patty’s Day means there’s a ton of home-cured corned beef simmering in pots around the country, and I’m sure there were quite a few of these sandwiches put together this weekend. So I know it’s not original, but this is one of the best Reubens I’ve ever eaten. This is not something that comes together in a day, the result of a “I feel like making a Reuben from scratch today” kind of whim, which wouldn’t really be possible. But you could say that I started prepping for this sandwich back in January.

Since there are hundreds of posts coming out on corned beef and pastrami this week , I decided to corn a beef tongue instead, which I’d never done before. It turns out that there are hundreds of folks doing that as well (a quick Twitter search for #charcutepalooza shows that we’re in good company). So with January’s sauerkraut good and sour as ever, all I needed was to bake some rye bread and whip up some Russian dressing and I’d have one terrific Reuben. So here we go.

Sauerkraut, ferments for 2 weeks. Has kept well in the fridge due to 5% salt and low pH. Start this early.

Corn a beef tongue for 5 days, then a 3 hour simmer.

Corned beef tongue. Slices nicely, great cold or hot. Surprisingly tender.

Deli-style Rye from The New Best Recipe cookbook. Hard to tell from this photo, but that's one big hunk of dough.

I'm glad I split the dough in half. It would have been an enormous loaf.

Bread, mustard, tongue, sauerkraut. (Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on the way.)

A quick brown on each side and you're all set.

Some notes:

  • I followed the brine procedures for sauerkraut and corned beef from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie. Both are excellent.
  • The tongue was a real pleasant surprise. I’ll admit, I tried it to see what the fuss was about. I had a few slices cold the other day (on a bagel with cream cheese), and I was hooked. It was even better on the hot sandwich.
  • I’m not sure if mustard is supposed to go on a Reuben, but I always put some on mine. I used Hank Shaw’s Basic Country Mustard recipe.
  • For the rye bread I used an overnight sponge and about 1/2 and 1/2 rye flour and regular bread flour. As I mentioned above, it made two good sized loaves. The bread is chewy, looks and smells like rye bread! (I don’t bake very often, so I was psyched with how this turned out), it has a great crust, and makes awesome toast. From The New Best Recipe cookbook.
  • Finally, I made the Russian dressing from Charcuterie, using the recipe for Instant Mayonaisse from Ratio (legit mayo; only “instant” because of Bob del Grosso‘s immersion blender technique).
  • For more details on Charcutepalooza visit Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen.
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About Scott

occasionally-bearded teacher/musician/cook
This entry was posted in baking, brine, charcutepalooza, condiments, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Building the Perfect Reuben

  1. This looks fantastic and I love your description of the process! While the focus of charcutepalooza is the meat, I also wanted to say that your bread looks great. I’ve been making sourdough for a while but have never tried proper rye bread. You’ve inspired me to make some rye bread this weekend!

  2. Cathy says:

    I love the look of that rye bread. Looks like I have another cookbook on my wish list. Thanks for your enthusiastic participation in Charcutepalooza.

  3. Scott says:

    @Cathy, it’s a nice resource. Many times that’s the book I go to for something basic that I’m making for the first time, usually with very good results. The rye bread turned out great. Their blueberry scone and pancake recipes are our go-to ones here at home. It’s not the best for everything, and in many cases they assume that their readers won’t take the time to search out a hard-to-find ingredient, or won’t want to do something completely from scratch (both things that we’re happy to do!). But its got great background information, including the food science to explain WHY something works (I like Shirley Corriher’s Cookwise for that same reason). It’s worth checking out.

  4. Pingback: Charcutepalooza Wrap-up: Back to Basics | Smoke Cure Pickle Brew

  5. Pingback: Into the Brine | Smoke Cure Pickle Brew

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