Lafayette’s Reuben Sandwich

For architects and comparative anatomists, form follows function.  For chefs, reuben sandwiches follow homemade pastrami. I don’t like the term foodie, but we all know certain people who seem just a little more fired up about food than most.  A good way to identify a local foodie is to mention anything regarding reuben sandwiches. Their eyes will narrow a touch, their mouth will widen slightly, they will emit an “ahhhhh” noise and then declare their love for Reubens followed by complaints that our town does not have a good one.  

Like many food greats, the source of the first reuben sandwich is debated.  Each creation story involve Jewish deli owners either named Reuben or with children named Reuben.  Omaha Nebraska has a pretty legit sounding claim, but more sources point to a New York City origin.  Wherever the first one was made, pastrami or corned beef, and rye bread were well stocked.

For a good reuben sandwich, you need a good pastrami or corned beef.  My earlier blog details how to make a great pastrami. My restaurant, the Acadian Superette, smokes up a great pastrami and we use this for our local version of the reuben sandwich.  Most reuben sandwiches call for corned beef or pastrami served on rye bread with russian dressing, sauerkraut or slaw, and swiss cheese. Mine is made with grilled buttered texas toast, smoked pastrami, cabbage, tomato, house-made russian dressing, and no cheese.  We will serve with cheese if you like.

Why do I prefer pastrami over corned beef?  It is smokier, has a more robust flavor, and often less watery.  Corned beef is fine, but is just a bit too yankee for the cajun palate.

For the russian dressing:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  1.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl
  2.  Whisk until well blended
  3.  Voila, you have russian dressing.  

You can certainly add or omit a few of the ingredients above, but the mayo, ketchup, and horseradish are the core ingredients in every russian dressing.

For the reuben sandwich:

  • Two pieces of texas toast
  • Soft butter
  • 4 slices of pastrami
  • Russian dressing
  • Thin sliced tomato
  • Shredded cabbage
  1. Butter both sides of both pieces of texas toast
  2. Grill texas toast until golden brown on both sides
  3. Smear russian dressing on both pieces of texas toast
  4. Warm your pastrami in hot griddle, no need to brown it, just make it hot and pile it on the bread
  5. Add shredded cabbage and thin sliced tomato

Bon appetit!