To me, a good Reuben sandwich is like a good cocktail. It combines ingredients I don't typically consume on their own — say, corned beef and thousand island dressing, or gin and tonic water — to invent a flavor that's new and magical. The same could be said for any good sandwich, I suppose, but the Reuben fascinates me most of all, partly because it's the only way I'll eat corned beef or thousand island dressing.
Unlike many American sandwiches, the Reuben's formula is universally agreed upon. Walk into any neighborhood deli, and the Reuben is the same: corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, rye, and the dreaded orangey dressing, comfortingly warmed and sliced in half. Dating back to 1914 or 1925 depending on who you believe, the Reuben contains so much American sandwich history between its rye bread, following in the footsteps of the rural German bierock, urban Jewish delis, and late-night drunken eats everywhere.
Not surprisingly, the Reuben also has a conflicted history, with several people staking a claim to its invention, so this week, I'm serving up a series of posts all about the Reuben. So come back and come hungry.
Katz's Delicatessen on the Lower East Side arguably has the best pastrami in NYC, but Carnegie Deli has the biggest, without a doubt. Between the Bread reader Danielle recently ordered the $16 Reuben at the famous Midtown deli. All I can say is, OMG.
Write Danielle: "There is bread way down under the piles of pastrami. I added lots of mustard." It's possible to have too much meat, but you can never have too much mustard.
Have you recently eaten a sandwich worth sharing? Send in your sandwich photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a description of what's on your sandwich.
With boxes of matzoh overlooking loaves of Acme Bread, Saul's Restaurant & Deli in Berkeley is the countercultural deli counter. The Kosher joint recently stopped serving salami until it could find a sustainable supplier, yet its corned beef is worthy of Katz's. I was already planning a trip to Saul's before it surfaced in a recent New York Times story about the sustainable deli movement, but the attention is well-deserved. Check it out below.
Ireland may not be famous for its sandwiches, but as I learned on a recent trip to Dublin, it makes some of the best bread I've ever eaten. Lucky for you, I've found a few ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day between the bread. Click through the photos to start the party.
It's not easy to eat an entire Reuben at Katz's, the legendary New York deli founded in 1888 — especially considering I haven't eaten corned beef or really any red meat in about eight years. But on my recent NYC sandwichstravaganza, I pretty much devoured this baby, except for a hearty overflow of meat that spilled out onto the plate. It was just too good to abandon in the interest of fullness.
Katz's is most famous for its pastrami, and with good reason (more on that in Part II). But the relatively new Reuben, added after the deli stopped keeping Kosher about 20 years ago, is not to be missed. Served on untoasted rye bread, three inches of soft, crumbly corned beef are covered with sauerkraut, a blanket of swiss, and homemade Russian dressing. Click through the gallery and you'll reconsider always ordering pastrami.