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Pierogi

Whither the Reuben sandwich?

62 posts in this topic

Without a doubt, my favorite sandwich, bar none, is the Reuben. With pastrami please, and Russian dressing. 'Kraut is mandatory (NO coleslaw), and the cheese should be Swiss and melty.

Grilled, on good, hearty rye. With caraway seeds.

Which, apparently, is impossible to find in most restaurants in the LA Basin. At least *my* end of the LA basin.

I've had a craving for a good Reuben, with onion rings, please (cholesterol be damned, they're only arteries....) for about 6 months. I *could* make one myself (and have), but I won't make the onion rings to complete the picture. Too much fuss and large amounts of hot oil.

I have been searching, and searching, and searching on these here Interwebs for local restaurants that serve Reubens. And I have come up with.....in all of the Greater Long Beach area, with a population of, well, a LOT of people, exactly one. One. Even restaurants I remember eating Reubens at in the past (lookin' at YOU Polly's Pies) no longer have them on the menu. Diners, no go. Chain sandwich shops, no go. Loca chain coffee shops, no go. Even the so-called "delis" in the area have pastrami sandwiches, but no Reubens.

Is this a SoCal thing only? Have Reubens become as scarce as hen's teeth in your neck of the woods? Is it just because we LaLa-ians fear the fat, and don't appreciate the 'kraut? What gives? I'd expect there's no shortage in NYC, but what about the rest of the country?

I will, of course, report back after my pilgrimage to the one restaurant that claims to serve a Reuben. It's on the agenda for tomorrow. We'll see if a) they still offer it, or b) it's worth the name.... :hmmm:


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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In the Pizza Belt (NYC to South of Philly) one can still find a righteous Reuben at real delis and some diners. But typically you have to tell the server that you want the kraut drained and toasted prior to being put on the sandwich...and have the bread buttered prior to being grilled... and have the meat truly thin-sliced.

I'm such a Reuben snot that those instructions have become more than I can bear and I only order the thing at a trusted establishment or make my own. Which is what I mostly do...with homemade corned beef that is sliced thin and is super tender and Russian dressing that has a touch of worcestershire and no relish.

If I weren't in a hotel I'd make one right now.

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I see one on the menu at Canter's Deli on Fairfax. Open 24/7 except on the high holidays.

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They're starting to build in popularity in Australia, perhaps they've emigrated.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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They're available here, though not widely (Boston doesn't have a big deli culture) and the quality differs markedly. A good one is not easy to find.

My local pub offers a "vegetarian reuben" which is everything but the corned beef. Grrr.



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A good reuben in a restaurant is (in my experience) a never ending quest that is punctuated by tears. I have given up the search and make my own becuase you need everything in its place, not just most of it. It is also, I think, a personal thing. I like the kraut rinsed and cooked until tender for example. I have endless variations that include corned beef, smoked shoulder and even kielbasa, but the other fundimentals are sacred. Open faced, hell no! Italian bread? You have to be kidding! Cole slaw? What kind of place are you people running here? It goes on and on.....

HC


Edited by HungryChris (log)

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My dear late husband, who LOVED Reubens but was not ultra fussy about them, actually liked the Reubens at Arby's. I never tried one there. Do you have Arby's? Would you trust them to make a reasonably decent one?

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A big part of my occasional trips up to Austin used to be a late-night visit to Katz's Deli for fried pickles, Reuben (corned beef please) and a slice of NY cheesecake. Imagine my disappointment when the place was shut down. Now I have to find a source for Reubens and a decent place to eat after midnight that isn't overrun with hipster trash.

I feel your pain, Pierogi.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Most BBQ places in the German settled areas of Texas have them. The little BBQ place around the corner here in Denton (Mentlzer's) makes a classic one.


"Drop it in a bucket. If it stays, grill it. If it climbs out, deep fry it" Cajun recipe.

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A big part of my occasional trips up to Austin used to be a late-night visit to Katz's Deli for fried pickles, Reuben (corned beef please) and a slice of NY cheesecake. Imagine my disappointment when the place was shut down. Now I have to find a source for Reubens and a decent place to eat after midnight that isn't overrun with hipster trash.

I feel your pain, Pierogi.

At that Katz's, like most places now, they were so proud of their "sky high" Reuben.

A proper Reuben is NOT "sky high." It's a relatively thin sandwich. It has to be because it's assembled, and THEN grilled. The bread should have that greasy texture and consistency and crunch of a well-made grilled cheese sandwich. All that is impossible to do when you've piled so much stuff on the bread that one has a hard time keeping it together even when holding with both hands. You'd never have even a hope of properly grilling it, let alone flipping it.

So instead, they take toast (the easy way out), and pile all that stuff on (Americans seem endlessly seduced by large portions) and call it a Reuben because it's got Reubenesque ingredients, to hell with the proper method of cooking it.

Just so happens I lived in Omaha in the 1960's and ate often at the coffee shop at the Blackstone Hotel, where the sandwich was purportedly invented.

I also used to live in Austin not all that long ago and ate at that Katz's you mention. When I couldn't stand the craving for a proper Reuben one more minute, I'd go there and order one. The first thing I'd do when the sandwich arrived was to take off at least half of that corned beef that they had just piled onto toast (because grilling that whole sandwich was impossible, as it often wouldn't even stand together on the plate), and put it in a to-go container. Then I'd take it home and make myself a proper Reuben.

Which is a slim, greasy, grilled combination of perfection.

GRILLED AFTER it's assembled.

And not merely made with toast.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Reuben culture is alive and well in Las Vegas. They use corned beef where I work. But at home I use a 50-50 mix of corned beef and pastrami.

And I disagree with grilling after assembly -- how are you going to get that sauteed sauerkraut taste if the 'kraut is sitting between two slices of bread?

For me, the correct way is to put a pile of meat, a pile of 'kraut and two pieces of rye on a well-buttered flat top, grill the items individually for awhile, then assemble and grill a little more to melt the cheese.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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And I disagree with grilling after assembly -- how are you going to get that sauteed sauerkraut taste if the 'kraut is sitting between two slices of bread?

For me, the correct way is to put a pile of meat, a pile of 'kraut and two pieces of rye on a well-buttered flat top, grill the items individually for awhile, then assemble and grill a little more to melt the cheese.

Well, that's pretty easy.

I take a small hunk of sauerkraut, flatten it into a patty approximately the shape of the bread I'm using, put it between two paper towels, roll a bottle or rolling pin over it to dry it out as much as possible so that it doesn't make the sandwich soggy, put my sauerkraut "patty" onto the grill for a couple of seconds, turn it once, then put it onto my rye bread that I've smeared with Thousand Island, and onto which I've first placed a few slices of corned beef, top the sauerkraut with a couple of slices of Swiss cheese, put the second piece of bread on top, smear it liberally with melted butter, put the whole assembled sandwich onto the grill with the buttered bread side down, smear more butter over the top piece of bread, grill until the bottom slice is crispy and crunchy, turn the entire sandwich over so that the other piece grills to crispy and crunchy perfection and the cheese melts and seals the whole thing together.

Often, I'll even put a weight on top of the sandwich while I'm grilling to be sure it winds up thin, crispy, crunchy, and perfect.

Just like back at the Blackstone Hotel Coffee Shop in 1965.

ETA - And, BTW, I've been making Reubens like this for many, many years, often when I'm entertaining. Folks accustomed to the mile high sandwich on toast consider my crusty, crunchy hot one a revelation. If you think it's getting harder to find the "pile on toast" version, let me assure you that the grilled ones are almost impossible to find. Restaurants can make the ones on toast even when they don't have a grill. It's much harder to make the sandwich and then grill it properly.

So many of my friends, after having my hot crispy version, tell me that that's how they make them now at home, as well.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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We have a little coffee and pastry joint near my office that makes beautiful reubens on pannini grills. Not too stuffed with meat and everything in the right proportion. They come out like a properly grilled reuben.

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We have a little coffee and pastry joint near my office that makes beautiful reubens on pannini grills. Not too stuffed with meat and everything in the right proportion. They come out like a properly grilled reuben.

You know, that's the key. Regardless as to whatever one prefers one's particular portions to be, the beauty of this sandwich is that everything has to be right. In balance. In harmony. Not too much sauerkraut. Not too much cheese. Not too much meat. Everything compliments. Nothing dominates.

Baseball fans often talk about 90 feet between the bases being as close as man comes to perfection.

That's exactly how I feel about the ingredients of the perfect Reuben.

Zen.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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They are not that hard to find here, mostly of the piled-high, NY deli style. I thought I had had a couple of the Omaha style but I don't recall them being greasy or crispy as Jaymes describes so I guess not.

NY deli style - Kenny & Ziggy's NY Deli, Katz's (run by the son of the man who had the Austin place, neither any relation to the NY institution), Kahn's in the Village. Kahn's was my first experience and my standard for years until Mike Kahn retired and sold the place. No one made sandwiches like Mike Kahn. I partially observed the technique which involved the assembled sandwich, possibly minus the top bread, passing through one of those conveyor belt ovens (top and bottom heat?) to heat the ingredients through and melt the cheese; the top piece of bread passed through separately. Without toasting, the sandwich would not hold up to the ingredients.

NY Style but more modest proportions: Spec's Liquor Whse Deli downtown.

Much more modest proportions that I thought was Omaha-style - Doyle's, NY Coffee Shop. The former I liked, the latter I was, and always am, very unimpressed by.

Pierogi - the chains Jason's Deli and Murphy's Deli both have reubens on their menus. Any of those there? I've been to Jason's once. Can't remember for sure but I think I had the muffaletta. Obviously wasn't very impressive. Never been to Murphy's.

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Corned brisket or round? I hate the toughness of brisket in an otherwise tender sandwich and do my reuben with corned top round which slices deli-thin using a knife.

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I don't care for pastrami and prefer my Reubens made with corned beef. I had to laugh when I saw this topic since I just made these last night. I'm also a Reuben snob and need drained and rinsed sauerkraut, buttered bread, swiss cheese, corned beef and Russian dressing cooked on a griddle.

I'm surrounded by biscuits and gravy folks here. B&G is fantastic, too, but I miss deli food and have resorted to sourcing and making my own sandwiches when I get nostalgic.

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Well, I hit option C) on the Great Reuben Hunt of '12 today. The single, solitary restaurant that had them on the menu CLOSED fercryin'outloud !! I was *not* happy, hungry but not happy. :angry:

Didn't realize I was in such a minority about prefering pastrami to corned beef. Lord knows, I would'nt refuse a corned beef Reuben (at this point, I'd probably do a happy dance if I found one), but to me the pastrami is more tender and way more flavorful.

And I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my Reuben wasteland. Agree with all the comments, those foot tall sandwiches are an insult, and don't even think about not grilling my bread. Sadly, the last couple of patty melts I've had have also forgone the grilling for just slabs of toast with the cheese melted over the patty sans bread. THOSE were tragic.

lindag, we do have Arby's here, and back in the day, I remember they served Reubens. However, as with most fast food chains, Arby's quality has tanked in the last 10 years or so, to the point I can't even take their roast beef sandwiches, which I used to love. I would be afraid, very afraid, of their attempts to make a Reuben.

Looks like I'm going to have to go homemade. Which is probably for the best.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Arby's reuben has all the components, but is a shadow of a proper reuben. It will make you sad.

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Thin, grilled Reuben, oh yeah. I make mine on my George Foreman grill and it fuses all the ingredients nicely. I hate those "sky-high" sandwiches that it's impossible even to take a bite out of. Restaurants around here don't get it.


"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

Visit my food blog! http://goodformeblog.blogspot.com/

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Thin, grilled Reuben, oh yeah. I make mine on my George Foreman grill and it fuses all the ingredients nicely. I hate those "sky-high" sandwiches that it's impossible even to take a bite out of. Restaurants around here don't get it.

Don't have a GF grill. Haven't used a GF grill. So I never thought about doing Reubens on a GF grill.

I'm getting one today.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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If you have a Beef O'Brady's near you, they have a pretty decent Reuben. It's corned beef, not pastrami. It is grilled, on rye, with 1000 island, kraut and Swiss. They don't grill the kraut before assembling the sandwich, but probably would if you asked.

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Thin, grilled Reuben, oh yeah. I make mine on my George Foreman grill and it fuses all the ingredients nicely. I hate those "sky-high" sandwiches that it's impossible even to take a bite out of. Restaurants around here don't get it.

Don't have a GF grill. Haven't used a GF grill. So I never thought about doing Reubens on a GF grill.

I'm getting one today.

You'll like it, Jaymes. you can make panini style sandiwiches on a waffle iron, as well. At least if you have one of the old school waffle irons with the grids that flip over to a flat side. I scored one at the thrift store after mine finally gave up the ghost.

Anyway, my son made off with our GF grill when he moved out of the dorms a year ago. He uses it all of the time and loves it.

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I already went looking. I see there are several sizes & styles. Which do you recommend?


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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