Some American cities have certain, special foods. Philadelphia has Philly Cheesesteak. Chicago brags about its pizza. New Orleans proclaims its Jambalya and Gumbo. Then there is humble Omaha, Nebraska–the birthplace of the Reuben Sandwich. According to local legend, grocer Reuben Kulakofsky threw a batch of sandwiches together to feed some late-night card players. One of those poker players was hotel owner Charles Schimmel; he enjoyed the sandwich so much that he added it to the menu of his hotel’s restaurant.
In my pre-vegetarian days, I’ve had a few Reubens in Omaha, and truly enjoyed them. These days at home, I substitute vegetarian faux-meat in place of the corned beef. If you wish to prepare an original Reuben for yourself, here is the non-Kosher recipe:
3 tablespoons of well-drained sauerkraut
3 tablespoons of Thousand Island or Russian salad dressing
2 slices of dark rye bread
some softened, unsalted butter
4 thin slices of Swiss cheese
4 or more slices of Kosher or Jewish-style corned beef
Mix the kraut and dressing in a small dish and set it aside.
Spread each bread slice on one side with the butter with the unbuttered side facing up. Place two cheese slices on the first bread slice then the corned beef, the kraut sauce, and the other two cheese slices. Cover it with the second bread slice with the buttered side up.
In a small heated skillet, grill pan, or griddle, melt a small dallop of butter then transfer the sandwich into the pan and fry it. Press with a spatula occasionally and flip when necessary.
The bread should be toasted evenly on both sides and the cheese fully molten. This process takes about five-minutes on each side.
Slide the prepared Reuben onto a luncheon plate; cut it in half; and serve it right away. To enjoy your sandwich like a Nebraskan, be sure to serve it with side garnishes of dill pickle, potato chips, and radishes. Yum!
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes film, stage, and TV actor, Peter Dinklage. “I dress and eat like a fifth-grader, basically. I like sandwiches and cereal and hooded sweatshirts.”