One day, when I was in high school, my father came home and told my mother about the most delicious sandwich he’d ever tasted. He described the ingredients Thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and corned beef on grilled bread. It sounded horrendous. Thousand Island dressing on a sandwich with sauerkraut? Really?
He was insistent that my mother recreate this concoction. She did and I fell in love with Rueben. The tang of the sauerkraut intermingling with the melted cheese, and the creaminess of the dressing created mouthfuls of deliciousness. The love affair with this sandwich didn’t even begin with real corned beef.
We were using the canned variety (we were ignorant when it came to the ways of corned beef in those days). Also, we used wheat bread, not rye. I guess my dad didn’t like rye.
Now, I am a bit of a Rueben snob. When I see it on a menu, I want to order it, but only after a few essential questions are answered. Do you use Thousand Island dressing (not mustard)? Is this grilled or on toasted bread? If it is toasted, I will not waste my time or calories.
It is unfortunate that there are waitresses out in the world telling people their Rueben is grilled, when in fact it was toasted. I was not a happy customer when my sandwich arrived.
However, I have found a place where the cook knows how to make a Rueben extraordinaire. Shane of Shane’s Joint creates a masterpiece of a sandwich. He not only grills the bread, but he also grills the corned beef. Watch out! The filling of this sandwich is hot! Swiss cheese melts down the mound of sauerkraut and corned beef like cheesy lava. The Thousand Island dressing slides on bringing all the ingredients to a perfect blending. The bread is grilled to crisp perfection.
The added bonus to this crispy, melty mess is a side of homemade potato chips, crunchy and warm. Handy to scoop up a bit of sauerkraut that escaped from the bread. Mmmmm!