We had a fairly quiet Saint Patrick’s Day with a corned beef dinner, a couple of cans of Guinness and a few episodes of Game of Thrones… Staring at the leftover corned beef I thought of the Reuben sandwiches my family and I used to have at Max’s Opera Cafe in Walnut Creek. Back then Max’s was a huge chain with restaurants far and wide. They’ve since whittled down to a handful. One of the Opera’s still exists on Van Ness in San Francisco. My brother and I used to meet there for dinner on a fairly regular basis when we first moved to the city. I’m not sure if they still do this, but back in the day the waitstaff were stage performers and working at Max’s Opera was a way to showcase their talents. One minute they were taking your order, the next they were by the piano belting out a tune. I haven’t been to Max’s in years, but based on the website it looks like the menu is still the same–huge sandwiches, comfort foods and mile-high desserts. Oh I’m sure it’s not exactly the same–what is–but as one childhood favorite after another shuts down in this city, it’s nice to see some places carry on…
Toasted sandwiches don’t keep well. If possible, you want to make these moments before you serve them.
Reuben Sandwiches (4 full size sandwiches or 24 bite size sandwiches)
Though a traditional Reuben is made with corned beef or pastrami, you could make a vegetarian version similar to what I often order when we go to the Pork Store. Just substitute sauteed sliced mushrooms and spinach for the meat. It’s a delicious alternative.
Rather than put the dressing inside the sandwich, we’re using it as a dipping sauce, but you can put it inside if you prefer.
8 slices rye bread–I used light rye, you can use dark if you like
2-3 Tbsps. (30-45ml) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. (226g) corned beef or pastrami, trimmed of fat and sliced as thin as possible
1/2 cup (170ml) sauerkraut–I use raw, fermented kraut
1/2 cup (170ml) grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup (85ml) Russian dressing
Russian Dressing (makes a little more than 1/4 cup or 85ml)
1/4 cup (85ml) mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. (15ml) ketchup
1 teaspoon (5ml) prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) Worcestershire sauce
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)
Combine all the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.
To make the sandwiches:
Butter all the slices of bread on one side. The buttered sides go on the outside.
Buttered side down, top one slice of bread with a layer of corned beef, cheese and sauerkraut.
Over medium high heat, grill both sides of the sandwich until golden brown.
Cut the sandwich into however many pieces you like. Serrated bread knives work best when trying to get through that top layer of bread without tearing everything to bits.