Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Delicious Sandwich Night: Reubens
I can't make a grilled cheese sandwich to save my life. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup are comfort foods that never comforted me growing up; I didn't make my first grilled cheese sandwich until sometime in college, when one day I didn't want ramen or fried rice so I decided to tackle the simple toastie. I didn't think it was that bad, or difficult to make. But then again, I'm not a sandwich connoisseur. And when I'm hungry, I'll eat just about anything.
So I never noticed that my sandwiches always ended up burnt on the outside, or cold on the inside, or both. It wasn't until I started serving the shameful creations to Murdo (who, unlike me, grew up on grilled cheese sandwiches and understands the fine art involved in perfectly melting cheese between two perfect pieces of toast) that I learned: I really suck at making these things.
I suppose it all comes down to the dirty little fact that sandwiches just aren't my thing. For me, they're quick and easy meals. So I want them done quickly and easily. Which means no fussing around with perfect cheese-to-meat-to-spread ratios or what have you. Slap the goodies together and call it a day, that's what I say.
The results, as you can imagine, are mediocre at best. This is why I leave the sandwich-making to Murdo.
You may remember the intricately designed sandwiches he would pack for my lunches over the summer -- during those sunny lunch days in the park (oh how I miss those...). Needless to say, he's pretty damn good at making sandwiches. He's been experimenting with the Reuben for some time now, tweaking his technique here and there to get it just right. Last week, making dinner for himself at his parents' house, he got it. And he told me all about it over the phone and insisted I needed to try it. So this week, we had Delicious Sandwich Night (hopefully the first in a series of Delicious Sandwiches made by Murdo).
Reuben purists may argue that a true Reuben must have sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. But this is America, folks, and YES WE CAN include (or in this case, NOT include) anything on our Reubens. Same goes for hot dogs, although Chicago-style will always be the way to go in my heart. But anyway.
First there's the butter. An even layer of butter on each slice of bread and a good pat of butter on the frying pan. Then the red onion must be sliced as thinly as possible. All of the ingredients (except the Swiss cheese, that's put on the bread right away) are placed directly in the pan -- the bread to toast to a perfect golden brown, the onions and corned beef to soften up before assembling the sandwich.
When the cheese is perfectly melted (don't ask me how this is determined -- I will never know when the cheese is perfectly melted), he takes the bread off the pan and squirts a good amount of spicy brown mustard.
The results: Melt-in-my-mouth delicious. Seriously. Cooking everything in butter before putting the sandwich together gives the meat a soft, velvety texture that dissolves on the tongue into a perfect blend of buttery-cheesy-mustardy-cornedbeefy goodness, with just a slight hint of crisp red onion. And the warm corned beef helps to melt the cheese all the way through -- not just the part touching the bread.
It's an art, this sandwich-making, that I will never have the patience to understand. Nor the need, really, since I'm dating my very own sandwich-maker. So I just eat.
He's got a bunch more Delicious Sandwich recipes just swimming around in his head, waiting to be perfected. And so begins our monthly Delicious Sandwich Night. Stay tuned.