Reuben Pie

On a road trip about 15 years ago, I had a culinary epiphany. Little did I know how well the
initial test would turn out, or how much demand there would be. I conceived something we like to call Reuben Pie.

If you like Reuben sandwiches , you’re likely going to love this one. For those not in the know, the Reuben is an American hot sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread. There are plenty of variations out there, but only one real Reuben.

This dish is not an inexpensive one due to the ingredients, and it’s deceptive in it’s
simplicity. Making one, let alone two of these things is a labor of love.
Rueben Pie
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:
1 raw pizza crust or preferred dough
2 lbs corned beef sliced at 0.5

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Grated Swiss cheese

1 pound Swiss cheese, shredded or grated
1 15 oz jar of sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, and pressed
1 bottle Thousand Island or Russian salad dressing
10″ spring-form pan
Parchment paper

Directions:

Grate the cheese and set aside.

Drain, rinse and press as much water as you can out of the sauerkraut.

Line the bottom of a spring-form pan with parchment paper and lock the ring in place. You may cut away the excess paper on the outside of the ring, or leave it for a larger “handle” when removing the pie after baking. If your pans are non-stick, don’t bother spraying them olive oil. If using a cast iron or other pan, spray the sides and line the bottom as with the spring-form.

Roll out the pizza crust and fit it into the pan. Be sure to cover the bottom and sides,
pinching any seams or holes closed, and pushing the dough into the edge where the side meets the bottom. You may have to cut away corners and pinch them in to fill gaps along the sides.

Place in a 400F oven for about ten minutes to give the crust a little more definition. If you
have an extra pan that will fit to keep the sides upright, I suggest using it.

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Upon removing the crust from the oven, remove the shaping pan (if you used one) and begin layering in your other ingredients. Begin with a thin layer of dressing, spread evenly around the bottom and sides. Add a sprinkle of Swiss. Add a layer of meat, thick enough so that you cannot see the bottom crust. Spread a layer of kraut around, as thick as you like. Next is a layer of Swiss.

Begin again with the dressing and continue layering until the pan is full. Be sure that your
top layer is cheese and that nothing is hanging over the edge of the pan.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes to ensure cheese melts and dish is heated through.

Once out of the oven, unlock and remove the ring from the pan. Using the edge of the parchment paper slide the pie onto a cutting surface. Allow to sit for three or four minutes before cutting.

Cut into eight wedges and serve with deli mustard and kosher pickles.

 
I’ve made some notes on the process and ingredients I prefer for this dish, as well as some
excellent alternatives. You might find some or all of them helpful.

DSC_0176The Pan
I use a spring-form pan for this dish for it’s ease in releasing the pie once it’s baked. A
deep dish cake pan or cast iron would do as well, provided you don’t mind it getting scratched from having the pie cut in it. This is not a dish that turns out like a cake with anyreliability, tending more to oozing cheese everywhere.

Parchment Paper
Parchment paper in the bottom of the pan will make it easier to remove. With a spring-form, you simply unlock the ring and lift it away, then slide the parchment paper and it’s burden onto a cutting surface. With any other type of pan, the corners of the parchment paper may be used to lift the pie out of the pan and onto a cutting surface. Parchment paper also helps give the bottom crust a crunchier texture, reminiscent of the grilled bread of a Reuben sandwich.

DSC_0180Pizza Crust
A pizza crust found in the canned biscuit case is readily available and easy to use. If you
have other breads available (at one time I could get pre-made rye bread dough at the grocery), or prefer to make your own, it’s entirely up to you. Be sure that with whatever crust you choose, the flavors will be compatible with the filling ingredients. We have tried pizza crust, rye, sourdough, and pumpernickel over the years and found them all to be quite tasty.

DSC_0192Corned Beef
Corned beef is typical of the Reuben sandwich, though you may prefer pastrami. Pastrami or even a mix of the two meats is perfectly acceptable. While I have always preferred corned beef sliced extremely thin, you may choose to use thicker slices (tougher) or even chunks/strips if you have home-cooked a corned beef and have leftovers. I know – such leftovers are not likely. Thinly sliced meat will not only allow fats to more readily cook out to combine with the other ingredients, it will give you a more tender texture overall, and allow your cheese to melt into the meat as well as the kraut layers.

Turkey also makes a decent Reuben style sandwich, though I have yet to try it in a Reuben pie. White meat especially is rather dry on it’s own and should be compensated for by adding a bit of an oilier cheese such as Mozzarella to compensate.

DSC_0184Sauerkraut
There are actually several styles of kraut on the market. There is a sweetish kraut (Bavarian style), a red kraut, and the generally well known white sauerkraut. Most people are unaware that when buying commercial kraut, it should be drained of the can/jar fluids, and rinsed before being used. That’s a trick I learned from my father after he had spent some time in Germany. For this recipe, the less fluid in the kraut, the less fluid will run off and move down to make the bottom crust mushy, so be sure to press it well after rinsing.

Swiss Cheese
I recommend buying your cheese in block form and grating it yourself. You may slice it if you prefer, but you will not get the same coverage in the end. Pre-grated or shredded cheeses are commonly coated with an anti-caking agent such as corn starch. If you don’t want those extra calories and carbs, you might consider avoiding the temptation. Besides, pre-shredded Swiss is more expensive per pound than the block.

 

DSC_0200The Dressing
Russian dressing is reputed to be the original dressing used for the Reuben sandwich. Many restaurants over the years have switched to using Thousand Island due to it’s accessibility and popularity on salads. I like either dressing, though this time around Thousand Island was requested.

 

Pickles
Reuben sandwiches, being a deli creation, are generally served with a pickle spear or a whole kosher dill on the side. The same is true for the Reuben Pie. I do not recommend putting slices of pickle into the layering of the pie for a couple of reasons. Pickles hold a a lot of liquid, and it will bake out into your pie. While the flavor may be delicious, the potential for a mushy crust is not. Pickles also change texture somewhat when baked or otherwise heated, losing the lovely crunch and often becoming mushy themselves, rather like sliced squash.

If you like the recipe, experiment with different flavor combinations and let us know what you come up with.

Here are a couple of extra photos of the no-sauerkraut pie and the crust-less pie that I made at the same time. One was a special request, though not strictly in the Reuben tradition, while the crust-less pie was simply a test of the ingredients without bread.

 

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

What’s Hiding in Your Freezer?

Have you peeked into your freezer or deep freeze, lately? If you are like me, no matter how organized you try to keep it, things will hide away from you. You mgiht be surprised at the wonderful potential that’s hiding in there, too.

Burger patties are good for more than just burgers. Whether they are beef, turkey or veggie, they can always be cooked up and made into wraps for a quick meal. Simply cook the patties in your preferred method, slice them up, and wrap them in tortillas with wil lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo and shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese. With the side of beans and rice, you have a quick and hearty meal.

With the colder weather imminent, soups and stews are always a good meal plan. A variety of meats and veggies that are likely hanging out in your freezer can be utilised towhip up lovely dishes such as chicken noodle soup and beef stew.

Chili if also a great way to warm up your family and meats may be mixed in this dish traditionally made fromt he poorest cuts of beef. Diced or ground venison, lamb, fowl, pork, and beef are all great starts for a big pot of chili. Have onion and chili powder? You’ve got the start to an awesome one pot dinner.

Frozen tortellini, tortelloni, ravioli, and other pasts provide a basis for numerous dishes including traditional pastas with sauce, pasta bakes (layered like lasagne but with different pasts varieties), and even soups. Chicken broth and three cheese tortellini with a bit of garlic and spinach turns into a lovely soup that’s a fun twist on chicken noodle.

Frozen meatballs on hand? Stuff them into bell peppers with a bit of pasta sauce (tomato based or Alfredo), top with cheese and bake. Serve with a small side of pasta and a green salad for a convenient meal.

For a quick side to many of these menu choices, try this:

Romaine Salad with Apples and Walnuts
Prep time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 bag Romaine lettuce
1 apple
3 oz Swiss cheese
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1 tbsp fresh chives, rough chopped
Your favorite vinaigrette, for serving

Wash and core the apple. Cut into 1/4 inch slices.

Dice cheese into 1/4 inch cubes.

Toss the lettuce into a large salad bowl. Add apples, cheese, walnuts and dressing. Toss to distribute dressing.

Sprinkle chives on top and serve.

 

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

Lighten Up Your Lunch!

Sandwiches are a staple for a lot of people for lunch. They are quick and convenient, easy to carry, throw together, and consume. The bread used is the main source of both carbs and calories for your average sandwich. Swapping out the bread for broad leaf lettuce to make wraps can add more crunch to your lunch, as well as a vegetable serving in your busy day.

Using a broad leaf lettuce, such as the outer leaves of iceburg, butterleaf, Romaine, or red-leaf lettuces, simply layer your sandwich fixings in the middle, roll it all up in the leaf, and eat.

Sound deceptively simple? It is! Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

TURKEY
Butter leaf lettuce
2 slices of turkey
a teaspoon of shredded beets
a teaspoon of fresh goat cheese
a teaspoon of chopped walnuts

Lay the turkey out on your lettuce leaf. Spread the goat cheese lengthwise along the meat so there will be some cheese in every bite. Add the beets and walnuts along the line of the cheese. Starting on one side, roll up the lettuce leaf around the other ingredients. Enjoy.

HAM
Iceburg lettuce
2 ounces ham, sliced or shredded
1 ounce Swiss or Emmenthaler
3 slices of fresh apple
1 teaspoon of chopped pecans

Follow the same procedure above in building and rolling your wrap.

BEEF
Romaine lettuce
2 ounces roast beef, corned beef or pastrami
1 ounce cheese, cheddar or provolone
1 kosher pickle spear
Brown or deli mustard

Beef is a hardy meat. Pile the beef and cheese on a microwave safe plate and heat for 30 seconds. This will soften the cheese but not make the meat hot enough to wilt the lettuce. Lay out the lettuce, add the meat and cheese. Run a line of mustard to taste down the length of the meat and cheese, an add the pickle spear. Wrap as instructed above.

Wraps are a wonderful way to use up leftovers that may be hanging about in the fridge. We always have broken meats, ends of cheese, a little of this or that available and have found this to be a good way to use them up.

You will also find that some restaurants now have lettuce wrap alternatives available for sandwiches on their menu. Five Guys Burgers & Fries now offers any hot dog or hamburger on their menu as a lettuce wrap. It’s a messy way to eat a burger, but it’s tasty and comes with any or all of their toppings.

I tried a double meat, double cheese wrap with pickles, mayo and sauteed mushrooms at Five Guys here in Conroe. It was so delicious that I smiled all the way through the meal, in spite of the slippery mess those mushrooms caused. I was licking my fingers afterward, too. They use two overlapping leaves of iceburg lettuce for that wrap, and the lettuce held up well enough in the beginning. It started getting messy about halfway through as the slippery ingredients started sliding to the relative bottom.

This taught me like nothing else that condiments such as mayo, mustard, and ketchup should be used sparingly in lettuce wraps, and to keep napkins handy!

Give wraps a try. The different combinations of ingredients are nearly endless, and can be tailored to individual diets. Remember not to over stuff your lettuce, go easy on the condiments, and have fun with it.

Bon appetite!

–Ann Cathey

Broken Meats

What, you may ask, is a broken meat? This is what’s left over when you have roasted a turkey and served the bird, or cooked up a ham that you served sliced for game day, or what’s left after you had a dinner party and served a loin of beef. Typically, these leftover meats are “broken” or removed from the bone and wind up in slices, chunks, and shreds.

Broken meats can be used so many ways. They can be diced for salads, sliced or shredded for sandwiches or wraps, used in stews, soups or chili, and so on.

Turkey might wind up in a lettuce wrap with leftover cranberry sauce or a tablespoon of fruit salad. It can also be diced or shredded and used as the meat in a pot pie.

Any meat can be shredded and used in making tamales or chili. These two dishes were originally intended for “trash” meats, using tough cuts or leftover ends. Broken meats will make them incredible.

Toss broken meats into tortillas with a bit of refried beans, cheese and diced tomato for tacos, burritos or quesadillas. They can also be used as pizza toppings and lasagna fillings, and be tossed into salads for an extra jolt of protein.

Stews, soups and chowders all benefit from some extra meat. Beef, pork, and chicken are all good for these applications.

Ham, being very salty in general, and often having a sweet glaze applied, is great for dicing and scrambling in eggs for breakfast. It’s also good sliced or shredded for sandwiches, and even for tossing with diced yams (sweet or savory) for a new baked dish.

Pigs-in-blankets are great. Any leftover meat with a little bit of an appropriate cheese can be wrapped up in pre-made biscuit or croissant dough and baked up into a warm treat.

Leftover steak (like that ever happens!) can be sliced up and tossed into a stir-fry or served as a breakfast side. It can also become a new main dish when sauteed with onions and mushrooms to be served over noodles or rice.

Broken meats just require a little imagination to become interesting and tasty meals rather than just sitting in the fridge being forgotten.

Drop us a line and let us know how you use your broken meats!

–Ann Cathey

Holiday Appetizers

Appetizers range from the simple to the decadent. They can act as snack food during the day, a lovely start to a meal, and finger foods for next day brunch.

Veggie Tray
A super simple and elegant snack offering takes a little effort and a decorative touch to sparkle during your holiday gatherings. Pick up a pre-made veggie or cheese tray. Simply lay out the veggies or cheeses on an attractive tray. Place a dip for the veggies or a mustard for the cheeses in a glass bowl in the middle of the tray. Using your own serving platter rather than the black plastic that usually comes with the party tray will have your guests thinking you went to more trouble on their behalf.

Simple Salads
Any salad that can be tossed together the day of your event is a quick addition to your meal plan. A harvest salad is a twist on the traditional green salad that is sure to delight. Toss together baby Romaine and spinach, dried cranberries, diced roasted butternut squash, thin slices of radish. This salad lends itself to the maple vinaigrette below. Prep everything the day before if you prefer and toss the salad with a dressing just before serving.

Maple Vinaigrette
Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use and refrigerate any leftovers.

Warm Chicken Salad
This appetizer or brunch offering is a warm and cozy touch of fall for your guests. As an appetizer, use chicken and apple. If you are serving this later in the weekend, you  might consider turkey and pear as a variation. Prepare your chicken salad as you usually do. Add a hint of Dijon mustard. Mix in chopped apple or sliced seedless grapes, broken walnuts and a drop of honey. For the turkey variation, use pear and pecan. Toast slices of baguette and top with a piece of lettuce. Add a scoop of the salad and serve.

Hope you all enjoy these these little suggestions on making your holiday gatherings more enjoyable for everyone.

–Ann Cathey

 

 

Holiday Advance Prep

Save yourself some time and stress by preparing as much in advance as possible. Here are some suggestions from our kitchen to yours for simplifying your holiday cooking.

Cookie Dough
Cookies are a great treat! Most cookies can be mixed up in advance, rolled into logs and frozen. When needed, they may be pulled out and sliced, baked, and served warm to your guests. Any type of cookie that doesn’t require a little something extra like a sugar crystal dusting or toppings is great for this preparation. Frozen cookie dough can also be used as an activity for kids or adults. Get together in the kitchen and make cookies together with family chats and a glass of wine or juice.

Stuffing Suggestions
Stuffing isn’t always cooked inside the bird. It is often baked alongside the bird so there’s plenty for everyone. The dry ingredients for stuffing can be mixed up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated until needed. Mix in the wet ingredients just before baking the dish.

For an extra layer of flavor in your stuffing, add pre-cooked and crumbled sausage or bacon. The sausage can be spicy or mild, sage or Italian spiced. Use whatever suits your meal plan and give your stuffing a boost. Diced apple, apricot or pear will also add an extra dimension to stuffing.

Sweet Treats
Unless it’s something that you want to serve hot out of the oven, many desserts can be made up a day or two in advance. Pumpkin or sweet potato pies refrigerate well. Filling for fruit pies and tarts can be mixed up in advance, stored in an airtight container and refrigerated until it’s time to build the pie and bake it. Dry ingredients for gingerbread, brownies, and cakes can be mixed up and stored in airtight containers without refrigeration. Simply add the wet ingredients and bake when you are ready.

Thawing The Bird
Frozen turkey, duck, goose, or whatever flavor of bird you desire for your holiday feast may be purchased weeks in advance and kept frozen until it’s time for the thaw. Remember to reserve space for thawing your turkey or other fowl. These meats should never be thawed at room temperature to avoid bacterial infection. Always thaw your bird at 40F or below, and allow 12 hours to thaw per four pounds of bird. Place the bird in a pan to avoid leaking into your refrigerator.

May your holidays begin and end with love!

–Ann Cathey