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Eduardo Garcia's Perfect Reuben Sandwiches

The Perfect Reuben Sandwiches

byEduardo Garcia
Total 20 mins, includes cooling time
Active 20 mins
Makes 2 to 4 servings
Special Equipment
a griddle (or large skillet)
Special Equipment
a griddle (or large skillet)
  • 4 slices sourdough rye bread
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing, homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought
  • 6 thin slices Emmental or Gruyere cheese
  • 2/3 pound thinly sliced pastrami, homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup Pink Sauerkraut (recipe follows) or store-bought sauerkraut
    Thousand Island Dressing
    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • 3 tablespoons ketchup
    • 2 tablespoons chopped kosher pickle, from 1 small pickle
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
    • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
    • 1 tablespoon chopped dill fronds
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
      For the Brine
      • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
      • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
      • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
      • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
      • 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
      • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
      • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
      • 2 teaspoons whole pink peppercorns
      • 9 whole cardamom pods
      • 6 large bay leaves
      • 1 cinnamon stick
      • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
      • 1 3/4 cups fine sea salt
      • Two 2-inch knobs fresh ginger, sliced or crushed
      • One 8-pound piece of brisket, fat trimmed
      For the Rub
      • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
      • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
      • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
      • 1 tablespoon brown and yellow mustard seeds
      • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
      • 9 whole cardamom pods
      • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup kosher salt
      • 2 tablespoons onion powder
      • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
      • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
        Pink Sauerkraut
        • 5 pounds red cabbage (about 2 small heads)
        • 2 pounds green cabbage (about 1/2 a large head)
        • 2 large carrots, scrubbed
        • 8 cloves garlic
        • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
        • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
          1. Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat.
          2. Lay the bread on a board. Butter one side of each slice of bread and flip it over so the butter side is down. Spread 2 tablespoons of dressing over each slice of bread (more or less if desired). Divide the cheese evenly among the slices of bread.
          3. Pile half of the pastrami on one slice of bread and the other half on another slice; top each with half of the sauerkraut. Flip the meatless bread, butter-side up, on top of the ones with pastrami and press down gently.
          4. Place the buttered sandwiches on the griddle and top with a heavy lid or pan to press them down. Cook the sandwiches, adjusting the heat as necessary, until golden brown on the first side and the cheese is beginning to melt, about 4 minutes. Remove the lid and flip the sandwiches. Cook, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the cheese is melted, each sandwich is heated through and the second side is golden brown, another 3 to 4 minutes. Slice the sandwiches in half and serve.
          1. Thousand Island Dressing
            1. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle, lemon juice, sweet paprika, onion, chives, dill, vinegar, and salt. Whisk to combine until an even salmon pink color. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
            2. Cook's Note: If you like it spicy, add a dash of hot sauce.
          1. Pastrami
            1. For the brine: Place a medium skillet over medium heat. To the warm pan, add the allspice berries, cloves, coriander seeds, juniper berries, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, pink peppercorns, cardamom pods, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick; toast, stirring often until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the spices from the skillet to a shallow bowl and allow to cool slightly, about 1 minute. Crush the spices using a mortar and pestle until coarsely crushed.
            2. In a large saucepan, combine the spice mixture with the brown sugar, sea salt, ginger, and 1 gallon of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
            3. Place the trimmed brisket in a 2-gallon baggie and pour the cooled brine over the meat. Remove as much air from the bag as possible and seal tightly. Place in a container just in case any leaks occur. Brine in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
            4. For the rub: Place a small skillet over medium heat and add the fennel seeds, cloves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, and cardamom pods. Toast over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the skillet and crush the spices using a mortar and pestle until finely crushed. (This step can also be done in a spice grinder or high-speed blender.) Transfer to a small bowl and add the brown sugar, salt, onion powder, ground ginger, and garlic. Mix well to combine.
            5. Remove the brisket from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the brisket well and soak in fresh water, replacing the water every hour, for 3 hours.
            6. Preheat a pellet grill or smoker to 250°F.
            7. Remove the brisket from the water and dry well. Apply the rub to the brisket liberally. Place the brisket on the pellet grill and cook with the lid closed until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, 3 to 4 hours. Remove the brisket from the grill and wrap it in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Return the foil-wrapped brisket to the grill, close the lid, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 200°F, 1 to 2 hours.
            8. Remove the brisket from the grill, wrap in a large clean towel, and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Slice and enjoy!
            9. Special equipment: a pellet grill or smoker
            10. Cook's Note: Use whatever combination of spices you want for the brine and rub.
            11. If you don’t have the spices, you can buy a jar of pickling spice mix at the grocery store.
          1. Pink Sauerkraut
            1. Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and pat dry with paper towels. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbages and reserve. Finely shred or chop the red cabbage, green cabbage, carrots, and garlic. Add the vegetables to a large bowl and season with some of the salt. Start with 3 tablespoons and taste after the next step. (You can always add more but you can’t take it away when it comes to kraut.)
            2. Massage the cabbage mixture roughly with your hands. You want to soften the texture and start to release the juices naturally from the vegetables. Taste the cabbage here and see if it needs more salt. Massage in the caraway seeds. When the cabbage is soft enough that it releases juice like water from a wet sponge, you are ready to pack your jars.
            3. Pack the vegetables into jars, pressing down firmly to extract the water. Pour any remaining liquid over the top. Press the cabbage down to remove any air pockets and to cover the cabbage with its own liquid. Fold one of the extra outer leaves to fit each jar snugly. Press it on top of the chopped cabbage to keep it submerged in the liquid and place a heavy object on top of the leaves.
            4. Loosely cover and allow the cabbage to ferment for 6 to 7 days in the refrigerator then give it a taste. If you like your cabbage lightly fermented, you may want to stop it at that point by placing a tight-fitting lid on each jar and storing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If you happen to notice any surface growth, you will need to discard the batch.
            5. Special equipment: a mandoline, mason jars with screw-top lids
            6. Cook's Note: This is not a difficult recipe, but time consuming, with lots of shredding of vegetables.