Reuben (part 1 of the sandwich series)Sandwiches are born out of practicality. This doesn't mean however, that the balance of flavours shouldn't be taken into account, says the Epicurean.
It’s a common misconception that a sandwich is just a bunch of ingredients thrown together between two slices of whatever bread you have lying about. It’s true, of course, that a sandwich is a dish born of practicality, something quick and uncomplicated to make when cooking isn’t high on your list of priorities.
This doesn’t, however, mean that the balance of flavours, the composition of the dish as it were, should not be taken into account. If anything, the fact that a sandwich is but two slices of bread with a filling nestled in between means that we should feel freer to compose its ingredients and that striking a good balance isn’t difficult. Choose the bread, the main actor in the filling, a sauce, and some supporting ingredients wisely and you’ve got something quick and delicious to eat.
In this series of sandwich recipes I want to highlight some of my favourite combinations. Some are famous recipes from around the world, some are just my interpretations of sandwiches from around the world, while others are just staples created in my own kitchen. Today’s example, also known as the Reuyben, is a classic Jewish/American creation, popular in delis all over the USA, rich in flavour and definitely unlike a tosti in height! In fact, Reubens can take on unwieldy proportions, but this version is a bit more manageable, though certainly filling.
Start by finding some decent rye bread (not the dense pumpernickel kind) and cut yourself two fairly thick, large slices (good roggebrood for this sandwich can be found at the Meijer bakery on Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat in the centre of town).
Spread half the sauce on each of the slices and fold the pieces of corned beef on top of one of them. Layering the meat like this creates more surface area for your taste buds to appreciate. The best place I have found for corned beef in Groningen, so far, is the Familie Wilner meat stand on Vismarkt.
Gently add as much sauerkraut as you like, having squeezed out some of the excess brine. Top it with Gruyère (or another kind of nutty, Swiss cheese) and place it under a preheated grill until the cheese has melted and is lightly coloured. Top the sandwich with the second slice of rye bread.
Cut it in half with a sharp knife and serve with a few pickled gherkins on the side. Consider this next time you don’t have the patience to take the pots and pans out, but you still want something more interesting than your usual sandwich.
Anastasios Sarampalis is a lecturer at the Psychology Department.
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