The origin of the Reuben sandwich is not certain but, there are several possible stories. One of the most popular is that Reuben Kulakofsky, a grocer in Omaha, Nebraska, created the Reuben sandwich for his weekly poker group whose members enjoyed creating and sharing their sandwiches as much as their poker games. Another possibility says that late one evening a chef in Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in New York City wanted to make the owner a “really good sandwich” as he ate too many hamburgers. Yet a third story about the origin of the reuben sandwich says that an actress came into the same Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen and asked the owner to make her a sandwich. He cut a loaf of rye bread, added one piece of sliced Virginia ham stacked with roast turkey, and imported Swiss cheese, topped it off with coleslaw and lots of special recipe Russian dressing then, the second slice of bread. As he served it, the lady said, 'Gee, Reuben, this is the best sandwich I ever ate, you ought to call it an Annette Special.' To which he replied, ',,,, I'll call it a Reuben's Special.'
Regardless of its origin, the modern Reuben has evolved into a grilled or toasted sandwich traditionally served on rye bread with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and either Russian or Thousand Island dressing. The method is to spread two slices of rye bread lightly with Russian or Thousand Island dressing on one side. Then place a layer of sauerkraut over one prepared slice; top with a slice of corned beef, and then a slice of Swiss cheese. Top with the second slice of rye bread, dressing side down. Butter the outside of Reuben sandwich lightly with soft butter or margarine and toast on a griddle or grill, turning to brown evenly. A variation on the Reuben, sometimes called the Rachel, uses pastrami or turkey instead of corned beef and sometimes, coleslaw in place of the sauerkraut. This turkey and coleslaw version is particularly popular in southern U.S. adaptations of the Reuben.
Modern Reuben Recipe
½ pound sliced corned beef
¼ cup drained sauerkraut
2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons creamy Russian or Thousand Island dressing
2 slices rye bread
1-3 slices Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Combine the sauerkraut, onion, and parsley.
Spread the dressing on two slices bread.
Pile layers of corned beef, cheese, and sauerkraut mixture on one slice.
Top sandwich with the second slice of bread.
Butter the outside of the bread
Grill until lightly browned, roughly 5 minutes