Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Makes for a Good Reuben

I am somewhat known for my quest to find the best Reuben sandwich. A Reuben includes corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing on rye bread. A friend recently decided what I was going to eat for lunch (a practice I am perfectly happy with - it keeps me trying new things and makes for a good few seconds of conversation about why people choose a particular item for me). She chose the Pastrami Melt at Planet Sub because it had Sauerkraut like a Reuben, but wasn't the Reuben, which I probably got often already (I've never actually had the Reuben sub there). Before she ordered, she expressed regret that she didn't better know what I like. So, this blog post is for her.

A good Reuben for me involves each ingredient. The corned beef should be sliced thinly so that it easily tears apart. Nothing is more annoying than a thick slice of corned beef getting pulled out entirely just because you can't bite through it perfectly. Honestly, I don't often taste the corned beef all that strongly, so it's mainly a practicality issue. In general, the more cheese any food has, the better. A Reuben is probably the same way. I have not yet had a Reuben that had too much Swiss cheese. I have no idea why sauerkraut is part of a Reuben. Sauerkraut isn't particularly good, but it's on every Reuben, so who am I to argue? My favorite part of a Reuben is probably the Thousand Island dressing. So many places cripple their Reuben by skimping on the Thousand Island dressing. Finally, the rye bread should be thick enough to be sturdy in the face of grease from corned beef, Thousand Island dressing, and whatever liquid is part of sauerkraut. On the other hand, it shouldn't be so thick as to be a hindrance to the eating process. This also means the crust shouldn't be rock hard.

My quest for the perfect Reuben started when my grandma took me to O'Neill's many, many years ago. I actually haven't been back, but it was quite a good Reuben. It must have been in order to start a quest, no? Up until very recently, my favorite Reuben was in a place in Michigan that I don't know the name of, nor a location more specific than Michigan. This past weekend, I had brunch at The Cook Shack Cafe, and their Reuben was quite excellent. The corned beef was so greasy that it wasn't clear whether or not it was actually corned beef. It still could have used more Thousand Island dressing and slightly thicker bread, but it was great all-around.

I of course do not mean this to be a criticism of my friend's choice of entrees for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pastrami Melt despite the large amounts of sauerkraut and mustard. =)


lauren said...

Never again will I assume that you've already had the Reuben at a sandwich shop...unless we're at O'Neills, or anyplace in Michigan. I'm glad to have more specifics so I can also grill the person at the register about the thickness of the meat slices, huskiness of the bread, and plenitude of Thousand Island dressing.

Hammer said...

Schlotzsky's on Strang Line has a reuben sandwich. Not sure how good it is - I don't eat beef. But considering that their other sandwiches and pizza are good, you may want to try it sometime.

eis271828 said...

Schlotzsky's has an OK Reuben, but nothing spectacular. It's decent, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

mustard seed said...

Someday I will take you to my part of Michigan and your quest will be over
: )