Corned beef and the Reuben

Dec. 31, 2009, 10:55 a.m. | by Adriano Petrich | Categories: 5 ingredients or less sandwich

Corned beef and the Reuben


That is only the redness talking.

Corned beef is somewhat of a American/Irish thing. We don’t have it here in Brazil, what we have here is its cousin the all-mighty Pastrami.

Both dishes start in the same way: The meat is cured in a brine, then for corned beef it is “canned” (which means boiled over a long time in a slow simmer until it is fork tender), for pastrami the meat is smoked.

The redness comes from Sodium nitrite in the brine. I am not a great fan of food additives, but here it has 2 roles: preventing botulism and preserving the redness of the meat.

Using sodium nitrite was a choice made because I’d rather call my food “The Pastrami that probably will not give you botulism” than “The Pastrami that I hope will not give you botulism”.

Pure semantics.

DIY corned beef

The name corned beef came because they would call the large grains of salt “corns”.

First hard step was getting a single slab of brisket2. Here in Brazil it is normally sliced following the ribs, each piece is about 15cm and has a rib still attached.

Lucky that I am, the guys at my butcher shop were happy to get me a full slab of brisket.

The meat has to be cured in a brine for 3 to 4 days. A brine is a wet rub, salt, sugar, loads of spices and sodium nitrite.

Then it is washed and boiled on a slow simmer for at least 3 hours. (mine had to go a little further).

This is still a very alpha version of the dish, when I graduate it I will post a recipe.

The Fake Reuben Sandwich

We don’t got corned beef and we don’t got Reuben here, that would be the end of it if we didn’t have the world wide internets. I saw a picture of the sandwich and I was hooked.

Sadly the first time that I saw the sandwich was after my last trip to the US so I’ve never had a real one.

On the other hand I was free to alter it since I didn’t have an archetype in my head of what it should taste.

The traditional Reuben has sauerkraut, corned beef, cheese and Russian dressing.

I don’t like sauerkraut, and I absolutely loathe mayo. No no, you didn’t get it. I feel a repulsion of its evil, malignant repugnance.

This is not a Reuben, but I will call it a Reuben: Pickles, mustard and corned beef

Proper sandwich making for your inner OCD self

A proper sandwich will not eject its contents on the first bite, it will also not become soggy (unless it is a soggy sandwich).

They way to achieve that is proper OCD3.

Slippery ingredients should be anchor on high friction surfaces: The pickles goes directly on top of the bread. Dry them on a paper towel so it will not wet the bread.

The mustard is applied to the other half.

Place the corned beef on top of the pickle and cover with the mustarded half.

Invert. Mustard looks nicer on the bottom, greens look better on the top

High fat ingredients like cream cheese can be used to create a water repellent layer under wet ingredients.

1Disclaimer: I am truly incapable of taking a picture of it that does not look like that I made a sandwich out of a slab of raw meat.

2Peito in portuguese.

3TOC in portuguese.


See more


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.