I was introduced to the Ruben Sandwich by my Aunt Carolyn. She is the quintessential “fancy” aunt who is well traveled, beautiful, wears big jewelry, and hot pink lipstick. As a kid I really idealized Aunt Carolyn. On one of her visits she discovered a little German deli in a neighboring town, “Leitzel’s”. It was the most darling place run out of an old cottage style house by an older lady who was born and raised in Germany. Don’t try to find this darling little deli because Leitzel has since moved back to her homeland.
Aunt Carolyn’s husband had been a military man, and Germany was one of the many fascinating places they lived. She bought sandwiches for each of us, an event which grew into a tradition for many years. We were exposed to bratwursts, knockwursts, and the Ruben Sandwich. This was the seed of my love of foreign food. Thanks Aunt Carolyn.
Our annual corned beef and cabbage dinner on St. Patrick’s Day rarely if ever lends leftovers. I always buy a roast that seems big enough to feed a small army. Somehow it always get eaten up before I have a chance to make it into my favorite sandwich on the planet… a Ruben Sandwich. If you do happen to have leftovers, how about making them into Rubens. And if not, just get some corned beef from the deli counter. You will not regret it.
A Ruben MUST be made on rye bread. I prefer Russian rye with fennel seeds. Don’t tell me you don’t like rye, just try this.
- 4 pieces sliced russian rye bread
- ½ pound thinly sliced corned beef or more as wanted
- swiss cheese
- ¼ cup thousand island dressing
- 2 tbsp creamed horseradish sauce
Place bread on a heated skillet to toast both sides. This helps keep the sauce and sauerkraut from making the bread soggy.
Place corned beef in sandwich sized portions in skillet. Top with Swiss cheese. Place lid on skillet and heat just long enough to heat the meat and melt the cheese.
When meat is toasty and cheese is melty place each meat portion on a piece of bread. You could just do this grilled cheese sandwich style where you put everything in the bread and toast it in the skillet. I like my way because the meat and cheese gets really toasty.
Top each meat portion with a generous amount of sauerkraut. I like to gently squeeze some of the juice out of the kraut so it doesn’t make the sandwich soggy.
Mix the dressing and horseradish in a small bowl.
Spread a generous smear of sauce on the top slice of bread and then top the sandwich with it.
Feel free to enjoy these year round - not just after St. Patrick's Day!
Enjoy with a cold beer and salt and vinegar potato chips followed by and dessert. If you can get Lagunitas IPA, it pairs amazingly well with this Ruben Sandwich.