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St. Patrick’s Day traditionally calls for a celebratory dinner of corned beef and cabbage, but cooked in a simmering water bath isn’t the only way to combine those two ingredients: the Reuben sandwich pairs corned beef and cabbage in a more intricate way. This particular sandwich has a storied (and disputed) history, with two different Reubens claiming it as their own. Arnold Reuben, of Reuben’s restaurant in New York City, was said to have invented the sandwich on a whim in 1914, for a famished leading lady of Charlie Chaplin’s. Another story has it that Reuben Kay of Omaha invented the sandwich at a poker game in 1955, then saw it attain national fame when it was entered in the National Sandwich Contest the following year, where it took the top prize. However it happened, the Reuben Sandwich--a delectable combination of corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese on pumpernickel--has been a deli staple for years.
The following variation on the Reuben is an easy way to serve a number of family members or friends at once. Since a fair number of people seem to eschew sauerkraut, our version of the Reuben substitutes coleslaw in its place. If you like sauerkraut, by all means use it; just be sure to drain it well.
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) Mellow Pastry Blend OR 2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) pumpernickel
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons (1 ounce) King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver*
3 tablespoons (1 ounce) potato flour OR 1/4 cup dried potato flakes
1 teaspoon Deli Rye Flavor*
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) water
*Both of these ingredients are optional, but recommended. The dough relaxer makes the dough extremely easy to roll out and handle, while the rye flavor adds a lot to the flavor of the bread.
1/2 pound thinly sliced corned beef
4 to 6 ounces (1 to 1 1/2 cups) coleslaw, very well drained
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups) shredded Swiss cheese
Combine the dough ingredients--by hand, mixer, food processor, or bread machine--and mix and knead till you’ve created a smooth, fairly soft dough. You should find this dough fairly easy to work with, if you’ve used the dough relaxer; it’ll feel very supple in your hands. Allow the dough to rise, covered, in a lightly greased bowl, or in your bread machine bucket, for about 1 hour; it should get quite puffy.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface. Gently pat it into a rough rectangle, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a 12 x 16-inch rectangle. It’ll roll out very easily, if you’ve used both the Mellow Pastry Blend and the dough relaxer; if you’ve used neither, expect some resistance. If the dough does keep shrinking back, just cover it with a damp towel for about 10 minutes, then come back and give it another go.
Layer the thinly sliced corned beef atop the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin clear on all sides. Spread the corned beef evenly with the coleslaw, then the cheese. Fold the two long edges over the filling; this will help keep it from leaking out as it bakes.
Starting with a short edge, gently (and fairly loosely) roll the dough into a nice, fat 10-inch log, about 3 inches in diameter. Place the log on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover it with a proof cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
Bake the roll for about 35 to 45 minutes, till it’s a light, golden brown; if it appears to be browning too quickly, tent it lightly with aluminum foil for the final 15 minutes of baking. Remove the loaf from the oven, and allow it to cool on the pan for 15 minutes. Slice it into 1 1/2-inch slices. Serve with Thousand Island or Russian dressing, if desired. Yield: about 8 servings.
It’s almost inevitable that the roll will split somewhere as it’s baking, and a bit of the filling will ooze out. This is a good thing; it allows you, the baker, to nab a furtive fingerful of melted cheese while everyone else is waiting to eat!
This roll goes into the oven as a fairly nice round, then flattens as it bakes. The slices you eventually cut and serve will be ovals, not rounds.
A couple of the taste-testers here thought the center of the slices cut from the very center of the roll were a bit doughy. If “doughy” is anathema to you, Sue suggests dry-frying the corned beef briefly, to help it exude any ambient moisture. Also, be very sure your coleslaw or sauerkraut is well-drained.