When it comes to planning weddings, we men usually do very little to help our soon-to-be-wives. Most women enjoy all the little details…most men do not. I actually enjoyed helping Patti as much as time allowed, but by far my favorite part was going around to different restaurants in the city with my mom, looking for the perfect location to have the rehearsal dinner. If you follow the book of etiquette on weddings, this is the one REAL responsibility given the groom and his family.
My mom and I embraced it with open arms.
We tried food at several different locations, but I will never forget the first meal I had at our eventual rehearsal dinner location, The Bissell Mansion. It’s a historic location in St. Louis that serves excellent food. My mom and I went there for lunch to scope the place out. Their special that day? Reuben sandwiches. I was 23 at the time and had never eaten a Reuben. The manager assured me it was the best in town and every time they offered it, they sold out.
Suggestion accepted…after I found out what was actually on this sandwich, of course.
The sandwich did not disappoint. The pastrami was piled high – at least 2 inches thick. The rye bread was perfectly toasted. The sauce was delicious. Everything about it was divine. And ever since that summer day back in 2000, I have been completely and totally obsessed with Reuben sandwiches. Every time I’m at a restaurant that offers them, I ask the server for their honest opinion: “Is this actually a GOOD Reuben, or just ok. Because I LOVE good Reuben’s, but I HATE being disappointed with bad ones.” You’d be surprised how honest servers can be when you lay it out there for them like that. I’ve had many steer me away.
Well I promise THIS Reuben will not disappoint. With our deliciously smoked pastrami, on grilled rye with a homemade sauce, sauerkraut and some traditional swiss cheese (or horseradish cheese for you rebels out there), my mouth was dancing with every bite. Dancing I tell you.
To be honest, nothing will ever top that very first Reuben. Maybe it was the setting. Maybe I was in a pre-wedding state of bliss. I think it was the company kept. My mom loves different food as much as I do and is one of my very best friends. She’s generous to a fault, and one of the most genuinely kind and happy people in this world. That day resides neatly inside my heart.
And this Reuben will reside neatly inside your belly.
Smoked Rueben Sandwich
- 2 slices rye bread
- A few slices of pastrami
- 1/4 to 1/2 Cup sauerkraut
- 2 slices of Swiss cheese
- For Sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 3 tablespoons grated onion
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
- 2 cloves of smoked roasted garlic
- Mix all ingredients for the sauce in a bowl.
- Preheat a pan on medium heat.
- On each slice of bread layer sauce, cheese, sauerkraut and pastrami in that order.
- Carefully put together the two sides of the sandwich. Butter the top slice of bread.
- Place sandwich butter side down in pan, then butter the other slice facing up now.
- Cook sandwich until golden brown and cheese has melted, 3-4 minutes on each side.