For St. Patty's Day we're skipping the traditional corned beef and cabbage and going straight to Reubens. A good Reuben sandwich is hard to beat. I tried to find a little history, but no one seemed to have a definitive answer. It probably happened just as our Reubens do: left over corned beef with added ingredients that naturally compliment the meat flavor. Corned beef and cabbage have always been a good pairing, but corned beef and sauerkraut: priceless. Add good bread, I prefer pumpernickel instead of rye, Russian dressing and swiss cheese, plus grilling the sandwich with butter and you have the perfect Reuben. Serve your Reuben with dill pickles and Leek and Potato Gratin for a full meal.
If you want the traditional meal, begin exactly the same way—with a good corned beef brisket. I rinse the meat and cut off the excess fat cap. My brisket weighed 3 lbs. I put it in my heavy stock pot, covered it with beef broth, added the spice packet and a quartered onion and simmered on low for 2 ½ to 3 hours. For sandwiches, remove the brisket from the broth and let it rest for fifteen or twenty minutes before slicing. Thinly slice, sprinkle with a little cooking broth and cover until ready to make the sandwiches.
If you're going the traditional route, I usually cook the meat a little longer, and add halved red potatoes, carrot pieces and cabbage during the last hour of cooking. Either way, corned beef is a great way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day around the table.
Leek and Potato Gratin
(I saw this recipe in the New York Times, and then changed, using the ingredients I had on hand.)
3 leeks, remove the tops and discard
6 T butter, divided
2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper
1 cup sour cream
One-fourth cup milk or cream
One-half teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
One and one-half cups shredded cheese of choice (cheddar, gruyere, asiago, parmesan)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Slice leeks open lengthwise and rinse under running water. Dry with paper towel.
Cut into quarter inch rings.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to saute pan over medium heat.
Saute leeks in butter until softened.
Salt and pepper potato slices, add about a tablespoon of melted butter and mix potatoes well with hands, coating and separating slices.
Butter casserole dish.
Layer potatoes into dish and cover with leeks.
Heat sour cream, milk, remaining butter and thyme in pan that held leeks. When warm, add cheese, stirring until cheese combines with cream. Taste for salt and pepper.
Pour mixture on top of leeks.
Cover casserole with foil and bake for one hour, or until potatoes are tender.
3 lb. Corned beef brisket with spice packet
2 quarts beef broth (or enough to cover brisket)
1 onion, quartered
Prepared Sauerkraut (I used Kroger brand refrigerated section)
Spicy Brown Mustard
2 lb. Swiss cheese sandwich slices
1 stick butter, melted
1 loaf Rye bread (I prefer marbled rye or pumpernickel), sliced
Cook brisket in beef broth with added spice packet and onion for about 3 hours, on low heat at a slow simmer, slightly covered.
Remove brisket and tent with foil, letting it rest until ready to slice.
Heat heavy iron skillet or grill pan. Butter outside of both pieces of bread for one sandwich. Spread Russian dressing thinly on inside of each piece of bread. Add a little spicy mustard to inside of slice.
Build sandwich beginning with bottom slice of bread, swiss cheese, thin layer of sauerkraut, several slices of corned beef, another slice of cheese and then the top of the sandwich.
Grill on each side until bread is toasted, and cheese is melted.
Serve with dill pickles.
1 cup mayonnaise
One-fourth cup chili sauce
1 shallot, finely minced
2 T sweet pickle relish
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Prepared horseradish
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.